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JPM Healthcare Conference Day 2: Thermo Fisher, BD, SomaLogic, Myriad, Oxford Nanopore, More

NEW YORK – The 40th Annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference is being held virtually this week due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The first day was very busy for firms operating in the diagnostics and genomic tools markets, and our coverage of those presentations can be found here

Below are brief reports on individual presentations webcast by the companies or through the JP Morgan conference portal on day two. 


Thermo Fisher Scientific 

Marc Casper, Thermo Fisher Scientific's president, chairman, and CEO, highlighted the upsides of the firm's $24 billion in recent acquisitions, including PPD, Mesa Biotech, Combinati, and others, adding cell sorting technologies as well as rapid and digital PCR systems to the firm's portfolio. 

The firm is "very excited" about the acquisition of contract research services provider PPD, which closed on Dec. 8, and expects it to contribute $1.50 in EPS for 2022, Casper said. 

Regarding the Mesa Biotech point-of-care rapid PCR system, Casper said the long-term strategy is to build up menu for the handheld device. 

"We looked at over 50 different technologies there are a lot of interesting different technologies and startups and what we loved about Mesa Biotech's rapid PCR is, the quality of results is awesome, and the instrument is super low-cost," Casper said. 

Furthermore, Casper said, "The list price on the instrument is $300, which basically means you can have it everywhere, and it is super easy to use." 

Thermo Fisher reasoned that the COVID-related opportunity alone will likely pay for the Mesa acquisition, and the firm can then capitalize with a new menu post-COVID. 

The company is now developing other molecular diagnostic tests for the system, including respiratory and other targets that could have utility in decentralized settings needing rapid turnaround times. 

"What we would expect is that by the middle of this decade you will see an impressive menu that will allow [spaces like] the pharmacy market to be able to offer rapid PCR tests," he said. 

The takeaway for the past year was, "2021 was awesome," Casper said. Entering 2022, "We are an incredibly well-positioned industry leader, and we serve some very attractive markets, with a great financial track record and outlook," he said. 


Becton Dickinson 

BD currently makes 45 billion devices per year and serves customers in 190 countries while funneling approximately $1 billion back to its research and development programs. It expects to launch more than 100 new products by 2025 with an increasing mix of "higher-growth transformative solutions," as well as to accelerate tuck-in mergers and acquisitions, CEO Tom Polen said. 

Polen expects BD to leverage its durable core business with a $45 billion total addressable market in FY 2021, in order to expand in an area it calls transformative solutions, growing the total addressable market in this realm from $15 billion in 2021 to $25 billion by 2025 through investment in future-looking opportunities with higher returns. 

BD completed 16 M&A transactions since FY2020 and expects to have capacity for up to $2 billion in tuck-in M&A per year going forward.  

The Velano Vascular acquisition is an example of M&A to reinforce the durable core business, he said, while the Scanwell Health acquisition marks an example of the 80 percent of M&A investment now going to transformative solutions. 

Many of the recent acquisitions had "little to no revenue" when they became part of BD, but revenues in 2021 from deals closed in FY20 and FY21 were approximately $100 million, Polen noted. "We expect the revenue from these same deals to organically grow twofold in FY22," he added.  

After R&D allocations, BD expects to have $18 billion through 2025 to invest. "After investing organically and returning value in the form of dividends, there is going to be enough capital to support both tuck-in acquisitions and share repurchases with an average of about $2 billion in cash available annually," Polen said. 

Finally, "In FY21 we strengthened our strategic position and also played an essential role in addressing COVID-19," Polen said. He noted that the firm's professional and at-home tests are in higher demand relative to previously communicated guidance, while demand for vaccination devices is as expected.  

"Antigen test pricing, while it is in line with our expectations, is much lower than when the testing first launched, and there are now over 40 rapid antigen tests with [Emergency Use Authorization] in the US market," he noted.  

Overall, BD is "well positioned to create long-term value," Polen said. "Our reliable and strengthened growth profile is supported by a strong core with leadership positions in key categories that will be enhanced by our innovation pipeline and tuck-in M&A strategy that is balanced but very purposely indexed towards higher growth areas." 


SomaLogic 

In 2021, proteomics firm SomaLogic launched a new commercial assay that can measure 7,000 human proteins in a single sample, grew its commercial team and customer base, and shifted its business model to one that's much more customer centric, according to CEO Roy Smythe. 

The Boulder, Colorado-based firm on Tuesday also announced preliminary financial results for full-year 2021, saying it expects revenues of more than $79 million, which would top its previously announced full-year 2021 revenue guidance of $77 million to $79 million. 

The company last week also announced an exclusive partnership with Illumina to create multiplexed, high-throughput proteomics assays with next-generation sequencing-based readout. According to Smythe, the partners will "develop a cobranded NGS-deployed solution to measure and identify proteins leveraging [SomaLogic's] proteomics platform and Illumina's global infrastructure." 

SomaLogic's SomaScan assay uses aptamer-based affinity reagents, called Somamers, to measure different proteins in a patient sample. Illumina will integrate the aptamer-based protein counting technology with its NGS and bioinformatics platforms. 

"The agreement includes upfront royalty payments, as well as … other revenue considerations for SomaLogic moving forward over time," Smythe said, adding, "It's important to note that this is not simply an agreement to enable the use of our technology on Illumina's platform … This deployed kit solution will be sold by Illumina into its worldwide installed base." 

The collaboration also moves SomaLogic closer to its objective to become "a comprehensive provider of proteomics solutions across both life sciences and clinical diagnostics," Smythe said, adding that over time it plans to "offer both protein identification and measurement capabilities on a variety of platforms and to run our growing diagnostic portfolio of products on these platforms, as well." 

He noted that the company has established the Proteomics for Precision Medicine program with five US health systems to evaluate its SomaSignal high-plex pattern recognition diagnostic tests. Last November, SomaLogic announced that it had entered a collaboration with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center to evaluate the impact of the tests on managing diabetic patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease. The collaboration added to previously announced agreements around SomaSignal with Emory University, Intermountain Healthcare, CommonSpirit Health, and UCHealth. 

"Our initial efforts have focused on cardiovascular disease, and in 2022, we will add tests to evaluate the risk of neurologic, oncologic, and renal conditions," Smythe said. 

The Boulder, Colorado-based company went public last September in a $630 million merger with a special purpose acquisition company. 


Myriad Genetics 

In the first quarter of 2022, Myriad Genetics will launch a testing service, called Precise Oncology Solutions, that oncologists can use to simultaneously garner insights about a cancer patient's hereditary cancer risk as well as the drugs they'll likely respond to.  

The Salt Lake City-based company has been developing the testing service under a collaboration with Intermountain Health and Illumina that was announced last year. The service will allow doctors to order, at the same time, Myriad's myRisk germline test for hereditary cancer risk; its myChoice CDx for assessing homologous recombination deficiency in ovarian cancer patients and predicting response to PARP inhibitors; and a comprehensive tumor panel developed by Intermountain, called Precise Tumor, that is based on Illumina's TSO 500 assay and can identify treatment opportunities with a variety of targeted drugs and immunotherapies.   

Myriad CEO Paul Diaz noted that although myChoice CDx is currently only available to direct the use of PARP inhibitors for ovarian cancer patients, the test is being evaluated in more than a dozen clinical trials with drugs for breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer, which together represent a $2 billion annual market opportunity for the test. Myriad is hoping to launch myChoice CDx in new indications starting in 2024.  

The company is also eyeing the liquid biopsy market, both for therapy selection and for measurable residual disease detection to track progression and cancer relapse. The company is in discussions with potential partners about developing a liquid biopsy therapy selection test that it hopes to launch sometime in 2023. For the MRD test, Myriad is hoping to leverage whole-exome sequencing and other technologies it has access to through existing partnerships and to develop a differentiated test for the market in 2024 or 2025.  

"We're going to go about it in a different way," Diaz said, recognizing that the MRD market is a crowded one. "A lot of people are ahead of us." But he noted that Myriad has a lot of in-house capabilities, as well as expertise and technologies it can leverage through its partnerships with Illumina and Intermountain, that will allow it to advance a differentiated MRD product.  

"We don't think we can take over the [liquid biopsy] market," he said. "But we think we can own our fair share of the market." 

Myriad is also making progress in its three-phase, multi-year restructuring plan to improve financials and capture the full market potential of its molecular diagnostics products. The company expects to enter 2022 with approximately $400 million in cash and no debt. Diaz projected that Myriad will grow organic revenues in the range of 9 percent to 12 percent between 2022 and 2023.  

The projection, he explained, does not factor in M&A activity or capital expenditure investments but is based on Myriad's confidence that it can stabilize the uptake of myRisk in a competitive market; maintain growth of the GeneSight pharmacogenetic test to guide use of mental health drugs; launch and drive adoption of a combined noninvasive prenatal screening and carrier screening test offering, called FirstGene; launch the integrated Precise Oncology Solution; and achieve other planned pipeline expansions.  

Lastly, despite continued uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Myriad provided revenue guidance for 2022. The company is expecting revenues between $670 million and $700 million for the year and adjusted EPS in the range of $0 and $.20. 


Oxford Nanopore Technologies 

Oxford Nanopore Technologies CEO Gordon Sanghera discussed ways that the firm's technology is being used in clinical and population sequencing efforts in a Tuesday afternoon session. He also reported that the company logged preliminary 2021 revenues of more than £126 million ($171.9 million). 

With its PromethIon platform, the firm is making inroads to commercial-scale genomics, he said. Researchers on population-scale projects can sequence a single genome, or possibly two, at 20X to 30X coverage on a single flow cell. In time-critical clinical settings, a human genome could be processed from sample collection to variant analysis in just one day (eight or nine hours) by running it across 48 flow cells. Normally, researchers would process a genome by running it for three to four days on one flow cell. 

The firm also has a development roadmap to sequencing three genomes per PromethIon flow cell, which would equate to a human genome for less than $250. There's even the possibility that the firm could get four genomes out of a flow cell, "and head towards that mythical $100 genome," Sanghera said. 

Oxford Nanopore's preliminary 2021 revenues of more than £126 million were up from £113.9 million in 2020. Excluding revenues from its LamPore COVID-19 diagnostic test, revenues were more than £120 million, up approximately 83 percent year over year from £65.5 million. The firm reported about £6 million in revenues from LamPore in 2021, down from approximately £48.4 million in 2020. 

During the Q&A session, Oxford Nanopore officials reacted to Illumina's announcement on Monday that it would launch a product that offered data on regions of the genome up to 10 kb long. "We like that Illumina accepts that long reads are here to stay and important, and they'll have to try harder," Sanghera said. 

In response to a question implying that Oxford Nanopore may still need to improve the accuracy of its platforms, Sanghera said, "We believe we have best-in-class accuracy. Our accuracy is as good as anybody else out there and I would challenge anybody to challenge that assertion." 


Agilent Technologies 

Agilent Technologies CEO Michael McMullen highlighted multiple high-growth areas of focus for the company in a Tuesday afternoon session. 

Since fiscal year 2015, Agilent has grown its yearly revenues to $6.3 billion from $4.0 billion, and 70 percent of that $2.3 billion difference is attributable to a focus on the high-growth pharma, diagnostics, and research markets, McMullen said. 

"Almost 60 percent of the company's businesses are in pharma, diagnostics, or research markets," he said, adding that these markets are large and continue to grow for the company. 

McMullen estimated the total addressable market, or TAM, in pharma at $19 billion, which is growing at a rate of 5 percent to 7 percent. In fiscal year 2021, revenues from this market totaled approximately $2.2 billion, or 35 percent of revenues. Biopharma, specifically, accounts for about a third of that. 

Cell analysis revenues have grown to more than $375 million and grew by approximately 25 percent, year over year, in 2021. The $315 million Agilent has invested into oligonucleotide manufacturing has paid off, with more than $225 million in revenues in FY21. "There were lots of questions about whether RNA-based therapeutics would ever go beyond orphan drugs and small patient populations," he said. "Now, there's no doubt there's going to be large on-market commercial demand down the road." 

Diagnostics and clinical, a $17 billion TAM growing at the same rate as pharmaceuticals, drove about $900 million in revenues, or 15 percent of the company's totals. 

The academic and government market, a $13 billion TAM, is growing at a rate of 3 percent to 5 percent. In fiscal year 2021, Agilent recorded approximately $600 million from this market, or 9 percent of total revenues. 

During the Q&A session, McMullen said a recent distribution deal signed with Avantor to sell liquid chromatography consumables might help Agilent to "do a better job expanding coverage, especially in academia and government. We've done well historically on instruments; not as well on the aftermarket business." 

Agilent CFO Bob McMahon also noted that the firm has seen "nice growth" for its clinical liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy business in China. 

Fiscal year 2022 should also be strong, as the company reiterated guidance of total revenues between $6.65 billion and $6.73 billion, representing growth of 5.5 percent to 7 percent year over year, and adjusted earnings per share between $4.76 and $4.86. For Q1 2022, Agilent expects revenues between $1.64 billion and $1.66 billion, representing growth of 5.9 percent to 7.2 percent year over year, and adjusted earnings per share between $1.16 and $1.18. 


Bio-Rad Laboratories 

Andrew Last, chief operating officer, said Bio-Rad Laboratories supplied instrumentation to build capacity for COVID-19 testing throughout the pandemic. The firm now sees the market as saturated in developed countries and expects "a big tail off" of COVID-19 revenues going forward from the approximately $245 million it guided for this past year, even given "a bit of a curve ball" from the Omicron variant. 

CEO Norman Schwartz said that while COVID is subsiding, "the research market seems to be very robust, the biopharma market is strong, and there is a greater appreciation for diagnostics," adding that "I think we are in some very good areas at the macro level." 

The pandemic-expanded installed base of PCR instruments will allow Bio-Rad to capture additional consumable sales, Schwartz suggested, noting that the newer hospital lab base also opens new markets for a firm that has more traditionally played in academic labs. 

Bio-Rad will capitalize on a recent partnership with Seegene in this realm and hopes to port that firm's assays to instruments in the hospital market for clinical lab use, Schwartz said. 

With a double-digit increase in funding proposed for the National Institutes of Health budget, Bio-Rad also anticipates growth in the research market, as well as continued advancement into the biopharma research market. Last said Bio-Rad has been "underpenetrated" in biopharma, so there is room for growth particularly in protein therapeutics workflows and gene therapy applications. 

"These give us a high-value entry into the segment, and then we have the opportunity to sell other products ... so we do get a halo effect from just being simply present in the biopharma segment," Last said. 

Bio-Rad's Droplet Digital PCR system is also now positioned to take advantage of a market that the firm sees climbing into "the many billions of dollars," Last said. Applications and end markets for the "highly quantitative" technology include academia, biopharma, cell and gene therapies, as well as diagnostics, liquid biopsy, and wastewater testing. 

Using digital PCR to support wastewater-based epidemiology testing is currently a small amount of the firm's total business, Last said, but "it's interesting, and it's certainly a growth opportunity." However, it is also "a price-sensitive market" that is somewhat dependent on federal funding, so for ddPCR to supplant qPCR will require pricing parity. 

Bio-Rad recently acquired Dropworks, in part to reach "the low end of the digital PCR market," Schwartz said. The technology is still in development and will take another 12 to 15 months to get to market, he said. 

Bio-Rad is also preparing to enter the single-cell biology market through technology obtained in its 2020 acquisition of Celsee. Last noted that the firm "lost a couple quarters" of development time through delays related to having to integrate the acquisition just as the pandemic hit. The firm expects the first-generation products for this market to debut in the second half of 2022. 

Bio-Rad also has "an increased appetite and focus" for a larger, potentially transformative M&A deal, either in life sciences or diagnostics, but there is "not a long list to choose from," Schwartz said. "We want to be careful that what we choose makes sense," he said, in terms of valuation, culture, and technology. 

Nevertheless, he added, "I would really hope that we could get something done in the next 12 to 18 months." 

CFO Ilan Daskal said Bio-Rad would like to spend between $1 billion and $5 billion on the low end for any transaction, "which we believe we can finance with our strong balance sheet, continued generation of free cash flow, leverage ratio of up to 3X on a gross basis, and some additional equity." The deal could potentially be a "merger of equals" on the higher end, but Daskal reiterated that "there aren't many opportunities out there." 


Abbott Laboratories 

Chairman and CEO Robert Ford said Abbott has "plenty of capacity" to handle the Omicron surge and expects its position in the rapid diagnostic testing market as well as increasing acceptance of over-the-counter testing to ultimately lend itself to "an interesting strategic play" for the firm. 

Abbott plans to begin building a more sustainable rapid diagnostics business, Ford said, that can include direct-to-consumer sales as well as other channels outside the hospital.  

Ford deferred specifics on Abbott's financial results for the year — including "a pretty strong last couple months of testing" — to an upcoming investor day presentation. 

The firm aspires to merge health technology and consumer technology, in part by building out its diabetes biowearables business for non-diabetes glucose monitoring and things like keto, lactate, and alcohol sensing. 

In diagnostics, the ID Now base has grown significantly, Ford said, and the firm's service and support of those systems has helped build good relationships with new customers who may be interested in "a tailwind of upper respiratory infectious disease testing," he said, adding that Abbott has been developing new tests.  

Abbott launched the Alinity MDx system during the pandemic, and it is still in its rollout phase, Ford said. Abbott has had success winning accounts for the Alinity MDx in core labs, he added, and he continues to believe the win rate is sustainable.  

"The key thing is, how do you add more to that box ... the core lab is also about menu expansion and increasing the throughput of those systems," he said. "I think that is the key aspect of our strategy, not only to win the accounts and RFPs that are coming up but to get new assays put in through those boxes is a great strategy for us in terms of returns."  


PerkinElmer  

During the past few years, the company has focused on what it considers high-growth markets. During his presentation, PerkinElmer CEO Prahlad Singh noted the benefits of the strategy, saying that the firm now projects total revenues of at least $4.5 billion in 2023, a $500 million increase from its estimate six months ago, driven by stronger-than-expected organic growth and the addition of BioLegend to its portfolio. 

The Waltham, Massachusetts-based firm previously anticipated 5 to 7 percent core organic growth, but with recent acquisitions becoming part of its core business during the next 12 months, that range has been increased to 7 to 9 percent, Singh said, adding that the new estimate excludes all contributions from its COVID-19 business. 

He noted that the firm's Diagnostics segment brought in about $3 billion in revenues in 2021, about half of which was not COVID-19-related. Since 2015, the diagnostics business has nearly tripled from about $450 million in revenues, he added. 

A year ago, PerkinElmer acquired Oxford Immunotec for $591 million, which has allowed the firm to broaden its presence in the infectious disease market. Additionally, its acquisition of Immunodiagnostic Systems last May for $155 million allowed it to increase its offerings in autoimmune diseases, Singh said. 

Further, he said that PerkinElmer is building a complete workflow around Oxford Immunotec's latent tuberculosis test to optimize the throughput and turnaround time. Leveraging its in-house technologies in liquid handling, sample preparation, and laboratory services, PerkinElmer will create a workflow for which it is currently seeking regulatory approvals globally, including in the US, which the company expects "in a few months," Singh said.  

"Longer term, we see even more potential to leverage other pieces of the company with Oxford in the form of new content development from BioLegend," as well as with PerkinElmer's Explorer workstations, "which will bring in even higher levels of automation and throughput to Oxford's offerings," he added. 

Singh said he expects PerkinElmer's Discovery & Analytical Solutions segment to achieve high-single digit revenue growth by 2023. Within the segment, life sciences is already growing at a double-digit clip. Meanwhile, growth is expected in food safety and applied markets, as well, he said. 

PerkinElmer has made nine acquisitions during the past year, Singh noted, and on a pro forma basis, revenues from those acquisitions rose greater than 20 percent in 2021. 

Also, early on Tuesday, PerkinElmer released its preliminary Q4 revenues, saying it anticipates total revenues to decline 1 percent year over year, which would still beat its prior guidance.  

For full-year 2021, the firm said it anticipates $5.0 billion in total revenues, including $1.5 billion in COVID-19-related revenues. 


Hologic 

Hologic's preliminary fiscal first quarter revenues, announced on Sunday, were down 9 percent year over year but better than the company expected. 

When it assembled its forecasts, the Marlborough, Massachusetts-based firm had not anticipated the emergence of the Omicron variant or the associated demand for its molecular tests, Steve MacMillan, Hologic's chairman, president, and CEO, said Tuesday. 

For Q1 2022, the company expects total revenues of approximately $1.47 billion. In November, it guided for Q1 revenues of $1.10 billion to $1.15 billion, and for full fiscal year 2022, it expected revenues of $3.75 billion to $4.00 billion. 

Now, its full-year revenue estimates are probably also understated, MacMillan said, adding that with global testing demand at an all-time high, "there's clearly going to be meaningful upside to our original forecast for the year. 

"The biggest thing we keep seeing is, there are going to be new variants and we've conditioned the public around the world to pay more attention to these things. … It is going to create a stronger business for us over time." 

Additionally, ongoing labor shortages are likely to push up placements of its highly automated Panther molecular diagnostic systems and tests, MacMillan said. 

A question he has "heard repeatedly over the last couple of years" is whether many of the Panther instruments placed worldwide during the pandemic "are going to be sitting idle when COVID comes down," MacMillan said. "Our Panthers are going to be used because right now, they're seeing extreme demand, and in a labor-constrained world, we think they're going to be even more important going forward." 

About a year ago, as more individuals began receiving COVID-19 vaccines, people thought testing was going away, and when antigen tests were approved, some said molecular testing would go away, MacMillan said. Neither one happened and, in this pandemic, "molecular testing, the gold standard, will be here for the long run and we are going to be here with it," he said. 

Last summer, MacMillan noted, Hologic announced a top-line organic growth rate target of 5 to 7 percent, though its pre-pandemic annual organic growth rate approached 5 percent. The company is ahead of its target, posting 12 percent organic growth in Q4 2021 and 9 percent in Q1 2022, he said. 

Its molecular business, international sales, and recent acquisitions are the main contributors to organic growth, MacMillan added. 

"Because our core businesses are so strong now, it gives us the luxury of being patient and selective as we scan the universe of what is out there" for capital deployment, MacMillan said. "It's giving us the opportunity to be opportunistic as we were last year with Biotheranostics, Diagenode, [and] Mobidiag." 


Danaher 

With exceptionally high growth rates, the Cepheid point-of-care molecular diagnostics business now contributes more than 10 percent of Danaher's overall annual revenues, the firm's president and CEO Rainer Blair said Tuesday. 

Cepheid's revenues have grown to $3.5 billion per year, he noted, a fivefold increase from 2016 when Danaher acquired the Sunnyvale, California point-of-care molecular diagnostics company whose installed base has quadrupled since 2016 and doubled since 2019. 

The Cepheid business had been growing at a double-digit rate prior to the pandemic, and Danaher anticipates it will grow at a low double-digit pace off of a larger base in a post-pandemic world, Blair said, adding that in the fourth quarter of 2021, based on preliminary estimates, the business had "better-than-expected" respiratory and non-respiratory revenues. 

Cepheid shipped almost 60 million tests in 2021, three times more than in 2020, and 19 million tests in Q4, exceeding an earlier estimate of 16 million tests. 

In Q4, it saw a pickup in demand for its 4-in-1 test for SARS-CoV-2, influenza A/B, and respiratory syncytial virus, Blair said, adding that about 65 percent of Cepheid's placements are with current customers looking to add capacity, and the rest are with new customers looking to expand their test menus. 

JP Morgan analyst Tycho Peterson said in a research note on Tuesday that the point-of-care molecular diagnostics market "continues to present a long runway for further penetration" by Cepheid. 

Overall, based on its preliminary estimates, Danaher "had a very strong finish to 2021," Blair said. Its fourth quarter core revenue growth is expected to be in the "high teens and materially better than our expectations of low-to-mid teens," he said, adding that the company saw strong performance across all of its business segments. 


Sophia Genetics 

Bioinformatics firm Sophia Genetics gave 2022 guidance for the first time, saying that it expects full-year revenues of $51.5 million to $54 million, in line with the consensus analyst estimate of $53.2 million. Sophia did not provide preliminary estimates for its pending 2021 fourth quarter and full-year results.  

CFO Ross Muken said that the company expects 2022 growth to come from a mix of new customers and an increase in average selling price due to demand for more detailed data. "This push toward richer and richer analytics per patient will benefit us," he said. 

Sophia added 16 new customers in Q4 that have not yet begun to generate revenue for the company, according to cofounder and CEO Jurgi Camblong 

While the North American market represents just slightly more than 10 percent of Sophia's business, Muken said that revenue from the US and Canada has been more than doubling annually since the firm started selling its technology outside Europe in 2019. The greatest growth in the last three to four months has come from North American specialty laboratories, he noted, particularly in oncology. 

Camblong said that North America will eventually be the firm's biggest market but did not give a timeframe. 

Sophia, which has dual headquarters in Saint-Sulpice, Switzerland, and Boston, still gets about 80 percent of its business from oncology, though it is active in other areas including cardiology and rare disorders, according to Camblong. Over the past couple of years, the firm has been branching out from its initial focus on genomic data into proteomics, digital pathology, spatial genomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics. 

The company created a record 66,000 new genomic profiles in Q4 and 240,000 for the full year, and it had 920,000 patient profiles in its database at the end of 2021, Camblong said. The volume of patient profiles has grown at an average annual rate of 63 percent since the Sophia DDM technology platform launched in 2016. 

Sophia also provided a first update on DEEP-Lung-IV, a multimodal study of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer that it announced at the Radiological Society of North America conference last month. The company is partnering with research institutions to conduct deep learning-based analysis of clinical, biological, genomic, and radiomic data to find and validate markers that might predict immunotherapy response.  

Plans are to follow 4,000 patients at 30 sites worldwide. Sophia said it has signed up 12 sites in five countries so far, including the Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Wisconsin and Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris in France.  


Berkeley Lights  

Berkeley Lights' outgoing CEO Eric Hobbs highlighted several business development efforts at the cellular analysis company.   

Partnerships and services revenues grew more than threefold compared to $5.8 million in 2020, with three major deals, two of which include royalties or milestones for Berkeley Lights. But those numbers could grow a lot in coming years, he suggested. The value of signed contracts, meanwhile, skyrocketed to approximately $42 million, compared to about $200,000 in 2020.   

Recurring revenue grew 35 percent year over year. Last week, Berkeley Lights announced preliminary 2021 revenues in the range of $84 million to $84.5 million, short of estimates issued in November.   

In 2022, the company has plans to advance its main businesses. In antibody therapeutics, it intends to move beyond mouse models to include rabbit and human ones as well as offer on-chip affinity measurements for antibodies. "Expect to see deal flow from other markets penetrate into antibody therapeutics," Hobbs said.  

For cell line development workflows, the firm has "data showing it can measure the quality of bispecifics, when manufactured by the cells," Hobbs said. "We'll provide turnkey reagents to allow customers to do this on their own."   

In synthetic biology, the company will release three workflows to Ginkgo Bioworks over the next two quarters.   

Berkely Lights plans to move beyond ag-bio in high-throughput functional screening, Hobbs said, adding that this is another area where he expects to see additional deals.   

The firm will also deliver a stable viral vector clone selection workflow to Thermo Fisher Scientific this year.


Cue Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored how important it is for people to be able to get accurate diagnostic information in a convenient and timely way, said Cue Health CEO Ayub Khattak.

"Consumers and healthcare workers need to be able to access timely health information for a range of different infectious diseases and manage chronic diseases more effectively," he said, adding that the accuracy and ease of use of the firm's COVID 19 test available for home use is one reason it is being adopted by many customers across healthcare enterprises and sports leagues.

The company offers the Cue Health Monitoring System, which consists of a portable reader with a single-use test cartridge and a sample collection wand. Its COVID-19 Test Kit received Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration in 2020 for use by CLIA-certified labs or at the point of care. The test also received EUA for home and over-the-counter use in March 2021, making it the first molecular test authorized by the agency for home use without a prescription.

Khattak further said that the firm is seeking "to pioneer the digital transformation of healthcare, beginning with diagnostics."

The digital connectivity of its COVID-19 test "is an aspect that we have leveraged to introduce significant new functionality onto the platform, including integrated virtual care with verified results sharing, and the most integrated solution for supervised testing for travel," Khattak said.

For healthcare providers, its test results are integrated into electronic medical records systems, and for public health professionals, the firm has enabled automated, epidemiological reporting, he noted.

In recently announced preliminary financial results, Cue said it grew from $23 million of revenue in full-year 2020 to $613 million to $618 million for full-year 2021, with Q4 revenues coming in at $188 million to $193 million.

"This rapid growth is a result of our ability to ramp production capacity to meet the high demand for Cue," company CFO John Gallagher said, adding that the firm has a strong balance sheet with $412 million of cash and equivalents at year end, including $230 million of gross proceeds obtained in its initial public offering in September.

The Scan

Call for a Different Tack

Experts weigh the value of recent experiments testing genetically modified pig kidneys using brain-dead individuals, according to Nature News.

Wastewater Warning

The New York Times reports that wastewater surveillance in some parts of the US point to a possible surge.

Can't Get in the Program

Due to the Northern Ireland protocol dispute, the European Union is preventing UK researchers from joining the Horizon Europe research program, the Times of London reports.

Science Paper on Spatial-Controlled Genome Editing

In Science this week: approach to enable a CRISPR-Cas13a-based system to be used as a cancer therapy.