Saturday, January 16, 2021

J.P. Morgan: 10X Genomics

As I attempt to collate various incomplete thoughts about the J.P. Morgan presentations I have read and listened to from genomics instrument shops, one thing stands out about 10X Genomics: they actually announced new gadgets and kits! I should thank the company for supplying the slides after I snarked on Twitter about how they weren't archived in the J.P. Morgan webcast -- but now it is there.  So either my eyes failed again or I had a personal IT failure (I think the website doesn't like iOS and I may have forgotten that).  The slides were presented by CEO Serge Saxonov

One of the slides in the presentation succinctly lays out the four focus areas for the company in terms of driving further adoption of the platform: "Address Affordability Challenges", "Solve Sample Preparation Bottlenecks", "Enable Easier Informatics" and "Deliver New Capabilities".  

On the affordability side, 10X is launching several new kits.  The CellPlex kit coming this quarter enables labeling four samples prior to encapsulation.  A Low Throughput Kit scheduled for later this half enables querying up to 1000 cells per sample and is intended for proof-of-concept work.  

An interesting expansion in capability is a Fixed RNA Profiling Kit coming late this year, enabling single cell analysis of the vast array of clinical samples fixed with FFPE.  This will enable either whole transcriptome or targeted transcriptome. A kit to enable Visium 2D profiling from FFPE -- which previously had very poor performance on such samples. Saxonov states that the FFPE system is "a  completely new chemistry" and not poly-A based yet has sensitivity similar to the existing Visium on fresh samples

An interesting challenge for Visium is that there are countless samples already mounted on non-Visium slides.  Next year 10X will release an instrument called CytAssist that will automate transferring tissue from other slides, including FFPE slides, to Visium slides.

Next year is also Visium HD with 400-fold higher spatial resolution, essentially single cell.  Saxonov believes this will appeal to both basic researchers as well as translational medicine scientists.

Chromium X is new box coming in the second half of the year able to profile 1 million cells per run.  CEO Saxonov touts this as pushing the platform into combinatorial drug screens, CRISPR screens and immune profiling as well as very large scale cell atlases.  Roughly $100K to buy and aimed at "people who tend to be on the forefront of single cell research" and "on the frontier of science".  

10X is having a virtual user meeting called Xperience in February.

An interesting thesis posed as an analyst question (you won't hear me write that often) is that dropping sequencing costs may transfer funds over to 10X, both because customers won't be spending as much on sequencing in general but also since many 10X products are very sequencing-hungry.

Saxonov in the Q&A suggested that the ReadCoor platform itself won't be 10X's product but rather a fusion of ReadCoor, Cartana and 10X technologies.  Perhaps the shortest interval between flashy AGBT rollout and being iced.  While he didn't give specifics, Saxonov stated that the ReadCoor device wasn't what 10X's customers wanted.

Another question was around proteomics.  Saxonov pointed out that oligo-linked antibodies is the main approach for using 10X for proteomics.  He also pointed out that Visium images can be merged with immunofluorescence data.  

2400 10X instruments vs 25K next-gen instruments in the field according to a question. Saxonov emphasized these are very different markets, but he believes that 20-50K placements should be possible in the next few years.

In response to a question of further Q&A, Saxonov said they are always on the lookout for complementary technologies generated elsewhere, but that 10X would not engage in acquisition for acquisition's sake -- so acquisitions for technology not to please Wall Street.

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