NEW YORK – Single-molecule proteomics firm Quantum-Si reported on Monday after the close of the market that its fourth quarter net loss more than tripled year over year as the newly public, pre-revenue company continued preparations to market its next-generation protein sequencing platform.
For the three months ended Dec. 31, the Guilford, Connecticut-based firm's net loss swelled to $29.4 million, or $.21 per share, compared to a net loss of $9.5 million, or $1.78 per share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Quantum-Si used approximately 137.4 million shares to calculate per-share loss in the recently completed quarter compared to about 5.3 million shares a year ago. The firm debuted on the Nasdaq last June after closing a business combination transaction with special-purpose acquisition company HighCape Capital Acquisition.
In Q4 the company appointed its founder and executive chairman, Jonathan Rothberg, as interim CEO and formed a new scientific advisory board whose goal will be to identify high-impact, routine applications for single-molecular protein sequencing in the research, clinical, and diagnostic markets.
"There is a tremendous opportunity for Quantum-Si's first-of-its-kind, next-generation protein sequencing technology to change the way we understand disease and immunology," Rothberg said in a statement. "While oncology drove the adoption of next-generation DNA sequencing, we believe that immunology, including our bodies' responses to COVID-19, will drive the adoption of next-generation protein sequencing."
In Q4 the firm also entered into a lease agreement for new headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut, near Yale University.
On a conference call following release of the financial results, Rothberg said the company is ramping up chip production and working with vendors to scale up reagent supplies in anticipation of a launch of its proteomics platform in the second half of 2022.
The platform consists of two modules, a sample preparation component called Carbon and a semiconductor chip-based analyzer called Platinum. The Platinum system runs in two modes — a protein sequencing mode, in which the instrument analyzes individual proteins by sequencing their individual amino acids, and what the company has called a "digital analyte" mode, an affinity agent-based approach in which the wells of the assay chip are functionalized with different affinity agents like antibodies, and analytes are identified by observing the kinetics of their binding to those agents.
Rothberg said the company is pursuing four primary types of customers in its early-access program and initial product launch — existing users of proteomics technologies; genomics researchers looking to move into proteomics; clinical labs focused on biomarker discovery; and collaborators in applications development.
Rothberg also during the call introduced Michael Mina as head of Quantum-Si's scientific advisory board. The former epidemiologist and immunologist at Harvard University is currently CSO at eMed.
Discussing the potential of Quantum-Si's platform, Mina suggested that the large-scale protein sequencing the company envisions may still be years in the future, but provided as an example of early applications assays using aptamer-based probes that could then be read out using the sequencing capabilities being developed by Quantum-Si. Companies including Olink and SomaLogic also use sequencing-based readouts for their affinity-probe proteomic assays.
Quantum-Si's R&D spending more than doubled to $14.4 million from $6.4 million a year ago, while its SG&A expenses more than quadrupled to $13.3 million from about $3.2 million.
For fiscal year 2021, the firm's net loss grew to $95.0 million, or $1.19 per share, from $36.6 million, or $6.84 per share, in 2020. Quantum-Si used about 79.6 million shares to calculate per-share loss in 2021 compared to about 5.4 million shares in 2020.
The company's 2021 R&D expenses grew 69 percent to $46.6 million from $27.6 million in 2020, while its SG&A expenses grew more than fivefold to $50.4 million from $9.2 million.
During 2021 the firm began operations at a product development and operations facility in San Diego and increased its total headcount to 153 employees as of Dec. 31 from 72 in the prior year.
Quantum-Si finished the year with $35.8 million in cash and cash equivalents and $435.5 million in marketable securities.
In Tuesday morning trading on the Nasdaq, Quantum-Si shares were up 6 percent to $4.42.