Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Bruker Wins NanoString Auction

NanoString declaring bankruptcy on the eve of 2024's edition of AGBT was a shock to many at the meeting and then there was confusion: would one of the sponsors have a dark booth? The aggressive 10X Genomics legal strategy that forced the bankruptcy raised a degree of polite ire. But NanoString marketing carried on and CSO Joe Beecham delivered a fiery speech saying "we're not going anywhere". Then an investment firm, Patient Square Capital, appeared to be the front runner for acquiring the assets, with speculation they would combine NanoString with their other spatial omics portfolio company, Resolve Biosciences.  But last week, as the genomics world was still processing PacBio's turmoil, news broke that Bruker had significantly outbid Patient Square - $392.6M vs $220M.  So Bruker takes NanoString home - and I gives me an entree to float an ontology of spatial technologies I've been fermenting, as Bruker will now have instruments in the four major spatial approaches.  And 10X now has a more formidable opponent in the ongoing patent wars.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

PacBio Plummets

PacBio announced preliminary earnings yesterday, and the nearly immediate result was a 50% plunge in their share price.  Along with the earnings, the company announced significant cost cutting.  The details of those cuts were not made available, but some clever tea leave parsers noted a significant omission from what the company said it would continue.  The ASeq Discord channel on PacBio absolutely blew up, with opinions ranging from PacBio is in a death spiral to PacBio must be for sale, with significant numbers of "Christian Henry won't be CEO by year's end".  

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Thoughts on RNU4-2 Mutation Paper

A new preprint based on Genomics UK data has identified a set of single base insertion mutations (predominantly a specific A insertion)  in a spliceosomal RNA which is responsible for about 0.5% of previously undiagnosed genetic cases of syndromic neurodevelopmental disorders . That's a remarkably high frequency mutation which has gone unnoticed to date, but the fact it was hiding in a non-protein-coding RNA (a spliceosome component called RNU4-2) had much to do with that - this gene won't be in any exome panels. The mutation always appears to be de novo and therefore the pathogenic phenotype is dominant.   I'd like to write down a few other thoughts - mostly in the form of questions --  with the caveat that I've never worked on a rare disease project and to describe me as a detached armchair voyeur of the field would be far too generous.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Post-AGBT: VizGen & Scale Biosciences Partner

It's been just a few weeks since I sat poolside at AGBT with VizGen CEO Terry Lo and Scale Biosciences CEO Giovanna Prout to discuss the two companies' new partnership.  Well, that would have been accurate about a month ago; getting the last AGBT threads together has been buried under post-AGBT day work, some family business, another vacation - and let's be serious, mega-scale procrastination and writer's block (and that's just a euphemism here for more procrastination).  But that shouldn't detract from what these two RNA (and more!) profiling companies are trying to build together.  Plus this is my last "Post-AGBT" tag for the year; now I can move on to "inspired by AGBT" that is a bit less tied to the meeting (and less obviously overdue)

Monday, March 11, 2024

BioNano In Peril Again

While I still have a pair of pre-AGBT and AGBT interviews to write up - plus a long list of post ideas inspired by AGBT - breaking news about BioNano Genomics takes precedence.  The company has announced a major restructuring, with about 30% of its employees being laid off.  I've been laid off twice and it's never enjoyable, so I hope what I write here is appropriately sensitive - but won't be surprised if I still commit a faux pas.  Even with the restructuring, one analyst who likes BioNano estimated they will have about three quarters of cash - this is indeed a perilous time.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Post-AGBT: Sequencing Hardware Roundup

Some updates on the sequencing instrument vendors, save Ultima Genomics and Element Biosciences which I've covered already.

Post-AGBT: Element AVITI Sequencing Updates

Element has been very busy over the past year and in the Silver Sponsor presentation covered updates since last AGBT as well as a number of completely new items.  I covered their Teton approach to multiomic analysis of cell culture in the last piece; in this one I'll cover their sequencing platform evolution.  Element was kind enough to loan me key members of their technical braintrust for an hour in the week before AGBT, which sadly I repaid by allowing their lunch to be scheduled over.  Thankfully, they do have a recording available!

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Post-AGBT: Both Element & Singular Want Spatial to Go With The Flow(cells)

Element Biosciences and Singular Genomics have often appeared to be on roughly parallel trajectories, though with key differences.  Both companies launched sequencing instruments with NextSeq 2000-like specifications and largely aimed at the academic core lab and small biotech company market.  At AGBT, both announced upgrades to their sequencing instruments that allow the instrument to perform spatial omics while still functioning as a sequencer.  But there are key differences in their approach and what we know about each company and their degree of success so far in the sequencer market.