Monday, January 25, 2021

J.P. Morgan: Genapsys

Genapsys' J.P. Morgan presentation by CEO Hesaam Esfandyarpour focused on their story of delivering a compact sequencer based on electronic detection that offers low capital, low cost sequencing.  There were two bits of specific product news, but mostly general painting of a rosy picture.  The current Genapsys package consists of two components -- the GS111 sequencer that has the footprint of a large compute tablet and the GC110 template prep instrument which is bigger.  Genapsys is promising in the near term to eliminate the GC110 -- the cluster generation will occur on-board the GS111.  So a $20K unit that inputs libraries and outputs data.

On the chip front, Genapsys is promising a 50M sensor chip this year to deliver >50 million reads with a read length around 150 and 8Gbases of data.  They demonstrated paired end sequencing at ASHG in 2020 and are claiming that position 125 is typically Q30. The 144M sensor chip is now promised to complete development in 2021.  Genapsys believes that chip will be sufficient to deliver a whole human genome.

In a future post you will see far more than you would ever desire of Genapsys' plot of instrument cost versus cost per gigabase.  The key message is that for less than 10% of the cost of a NextSeq 500, they plan to deliver around the same cost per gigabasepair ($54) with the 144M sensor chip halving that cost again.

Genapsys has pretty images of a future integrated sample prep and sequencer.  I'm not sold that this really makes sense; sample prep may have a very different cadence than sequencers and the variety of different sample prep processes is huge -- will this be a specialist for a few or a general purpose processor.  Integration saving labor does make sense -- but if Genapsys' vision is labs full of sequencers running 144M chips each sequencing a single human genome, should they be thinking of rack-mounted units rather than these sleep looking appliances?

Much of Genapsys' slides are devoted to figures presented in various publications and posters to show that their data is equal to or superior to Illumina in quality.  They also have a world map showing where they have booked or shipped units, with many circles in Europe, Asia plus the ones in Australia and the U.S. -- but no Canada, Africa or South America.

So Genapsys believes they are executing well on a from the low end, Clayton Christensen style attack on Illumina, rolling up the low end of the market. It will be interesting to see if Illumina is willing to cede this space to them or if Genapsys has poked a sleeping bear. Illumina could respond with new low end instruments or significantly upgraded consumables for iSeq -- or Illumina might be scouring their IP portfolio to search for an avenue of attack. The one option we can be nearly certain isn't in the cards would be Illumina acquiring Genapsys -- if the regulators didn't like Illumina buying a long read competitor they'd really hate them buying out a short read threat.

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