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JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, Day 4: Singular Genomics, Quantum-Si, Quanterix

SAN FRANCISCO – The 41st Annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference wrapped up on Thursday with a handful of diagnostics and genomics tools firms presenting to investors. 

Below are brief reports on individual presentations from the conference. Be sure to catch up on summaries from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. 

Singular Genomics 

Singular Genomics offered more details about the five G4 sequencers it shipped in the fourth quarter. 

The firm has "worked hard" to close out 2022, CFO Dalen Meeter said in his presentation, and has addressed many of the supply chain and manufacturing issues that forced it to delay and temper expectations for its instrument rollout.

Of the five shipped sequencers, the firm has recognized revenue from three, for a total of about $700,000. That made Q4 the first revenue-generating quarter for the San Diego-based instrument maker. 

Three of the systems went to academic core labs at Harvard University, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and the University of New Mexico. One went to a commercial lab and another to a hospital research lab, Meeter said. 

"It's a big deal for us to get our first units out there in customer labs," CEO and Cofounder Drew Spaventa said in an interview prior to the session. "We're on track with where we said we'd be." 

Meeter reiterated that the firm plans to ship between two and four instruments per month for the time being. 

Cofounder and CSO Eli Glezer said that the planned F3 flow cell, which will double the output to 300 million reads, is "coming very soon" and that Singular is working on general flow cell performance enhancements, output, and read length. 

Moreover, the firm is developing different reagent kits and techniques, including Ring-seq, a proprietary method for detecting gene fusions. 

The firm's cash burn has been approximately $25 million per quarter, but Meeter said the firm has plans to extend its cash runway to the second half of 2025 with its existing resources. Singular currently has about 280 employees. 

Quantum-Si 

Quantum-Si CEO Jeff Hawkins highlighted the company's recent launch of its Platinum protein sequencing system, which uses amino acid-specific probe read-outs via a semiconductor-based sensing device to analyze protein sequences. 

This initial version of the platform uses five probes capable of recognizing 15 different amino acids, which Hawkins said allows the company to access 70 percent of the proteome, though the company is currently focused on targeted applications. Quantum-Si President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Schneider previously said the company expected the platform would, at launch, be able to make around 200,000 peptide reads per experiment. The cost of running the instrument is around $500 per sample. 

Hawkins said the company believes that the system's relatively low cost, around $70,000, along with its streamlined data analysis workflow, compact size, and ability to interrogate protein isoforms, would drive adoption. 

He said Quantum-Si will concentrate heavily on building out its commercial operations in 2023 and noted that in December it appointed Grace Johnston as chief commercial officer. 

It has also launched a proof-of-concept testing service where, Hawkins said, customers can send "a small number of samples and, for a modest charge, we will process those samples and show them the results." 

"We think this is a creative way to help overcome some of the challenges new technologies have when they come to the market," he said. 

Hawkins said Quantum-Si will also work in 2023 to "round out the ecosystem around" the Platinum system. To that end, the company announced agreements this week with San Diego-based Aviva Systems Biology to codevelop protein enrichment kits to isolate proteins of interest prior to analysis by the Platinum system and with Charlottesville, Virginia-based drug development services firm Biovista under which it will integrate Biovista's AI-based Vizit informatics tools into its analytics software suite.

Hawkins said Quantum-Si will also launch its Carbon automated sample prep module later this year. 

He said that under its existing guidance, the company expects to have enough cash to last through 2024 and into 2025. 

Quanterix 

Quanterix President and CEO Masoud Toloue gave an update on the company's ongoing restructuring program, which it announced last summer as it laid off around 130 employees and refocused its commercial efforts. 

The restructuring is meant to help Quanterix scale its operations and assays to better meet both current and anticipated demand for higher-throughput testing in areas like clinical trials and diagnostics, Toloue said, adding that the company was now two quarters into what it projected would be a six-quarter process and that "our expectations are on track." 

To date, Quanterix has placed roughly 875 instruments featuring its Simoa high-sensitivity immunoassay technology. The firm generates roughly 80 percent of its revenues through instrument and reagent sales and around 20 percent from services, Toloue said. 

The company remains most active in neurology, with around 70 percent of its installed base being used for neurology research. Toloue highlighted the launch this month of its laboratory-developed test for measuring neurofilament light chain (NfL), a biomarker of neuronal damage. He also noted the launch last year of an LDT for measuring phosphorylated tau-181 (ptau-181), a biomarker for Alzheimer's disease that was used by pharmaceutical firm Eisai in clinical studies for its drug, Leqembi (lecanemab), for the disease, and which received US Food and Drug Administration approval last week. Quanterix had received FDA breakthrough designation for its NfL and ptau-181 tests, Toloue said. 

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