NEW YORK – SomaLogic said this week that it expects to launch more than 10 new products over the course of the coming year, including diagnostic assays and distributed research kits.
On a conference call with investors following the release of the firm's fourth quarter and full-year 2021 financial results, company officials previewed 2022 for the Boulder, Colorado-based proteomics firm.
By the end of the year, SomaLogic plans to add 10 SomaScan diagnostic assays, CEO Roy Smythe told investors, bringing the total offering to around 30 assays. Initial tests will address liver and heart disease, as well as diabetes. That's just a taste of what's to come, he said, noting that the company believes it currently has enough data to develop between 80 and 100 tests. More data is on the way from two new studies the company is in the process of launching, he added.
The new assays will add to distributed aptamer array-based research kits meant for large, high-volume labs. Those kits were tested in an early-access program in 2021 and are slated for release in the second half of the year.
Smythe added that the company plans to have reagents by the end of the year that will enable a 10,000-protein assay, to be commercialized in the first half of 2023. Currently, SomaLogic offers an assay targeting around 7,000 proteins. The firm is also already several months into R&D of an approach that uses multiple aptamers per target.
Company officials also outlined plans to expand into Europe and the Asia Pacific region with distributed kits of aptamer-based proteomics assays.
SomaLogic grew full-year 2021 revenues by 46 percent year over year and went public in September, raising $630 million in a merger with a special-purpose acquisition corporation. The firm will need that war chest as it projects its operating expenses to grow 70 percent year over year in 2022.
This expense ramping is "faster than forecasted," Cowen Analyst Dan Brennan wrote in a note to investors, but should enable revenue growth of 30 percent or more in the future.
SomaLogic officials said they're investing heavily in their commercial team, targeting to grow it to 125 employees by the end of the year. The company is also investing in studies, including the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
"Part of the reason we were interested in raising a large amount of capital in our public transition was to have the opportunity to do projects like EPIC, where we can make investments in those biobanks to create clinical products, which obviously would have downstream revenue for us," Smythe said.
"EPIC actually is an investment for us," he added, as is the MESA study, where the firm will process samples from around 15,000 participants. "We're running these samples on our own investment to create new clinical products. And as we've mentioned before, we believe that there will be substantial benefit from this in regard to creating a number of new cancer prognostic tests that should have significant market interest."
The MESA study will include participants with more genetic diversity than past studies. "We like to be able to show that our tests are generalizable across ethnicity," Chief Medical Officer Stephen Williams said. "The models that we developed ... they tend to be race-blind but we need to be able to demonstrate that. But the other special feature of MESA is, it's longitudinal and has sequential samples from the same individuals over time ... [A]s diseases and diagnoses develop or get more severe, you can see the changes within individuals."
By the end of the year, SomaLogic plans to have around 30 diagnostic assays. "We intend to accelerate time-to-market for these SomaSignal test products, via licensing and business development, and are now pursuing very active near-term opportunities for both of these approaches," Smythe said.
The firm expects to see revenues from these tests starting this year, and is in the process of forming licensing and development partnerships, he added.
SomaLogic said its early-access program for academic and other research partners to use distributed research assay kits in their own labs was a success and could dovetail nicely with its global expansion plans.
"We're looking at these large-volume sites that can process samples for others," SomaLogic President and Chief Operating Officer Melody Harris said. "And we are certainly targeting locations for that in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and Asia Pacific so that we can drive more volume into those core lab kit sites starting in the back half of the year." Smythe added that this approach could reduce issues related to sample or data movement across international borders.
Harris noted that in the first quarter of 2022, the firm hired regional leads for both EMEA and APAC. "We've also added a double-digit [number of] sales folks outside of the US, and we anticipate that growth will continue throughout 2022," she said. "So, we're looking for a reasonably impactful contribution from international revenues during the course of 2022."
Getting a salesperson to be "fully productive can take up to six months," she said. "Given that we've been hiring so rapidly in the last two quarters, we anticipate seeing an enormous amount of that ramp in the back half of the year, as all those bodies start to become highly productive in the back half of the year for us."
"In the beginning of 2021, we had one person in EMEA and no one in APAC," Smythe said, even though 12 of the top 50 biopharma companies by revenue are in the APAC region. "So, the upside for this is substantial."