10x Genomics Enters In Situ Analysis Market with Recent Acquisitions


10X Genomics just agreed to acquire ReadCoor, Inc., an innovator in the nascent field of in situ technology. The $350 million deal comes on the heels of 10x Genomics’ August acquisition of CartaNA AB, a Stockholm-based developer of in situ RNA analysis technology.

In situ technologies will be foundational for how a lot of basic research is done, and for how clinical diagnostics are done,” Serge Saxonov, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO, told BioSpace. “A lot of discoveries, such as better understanding binding and identifying biomarkers, as well as understanding new cell types, what they do, and how they behave eventually will be measured in the clinic using in situ approaches.”

Right now, however, the approaches are being developed by academic and biotech researchers in their labs.

ReadCoor spun out of George Church’s lab at Harvard University, and CartaNA came out of work from Mats Nilsson’s SciLife Lab at Stockholm University. Both Church and Nilsson will become scientific advisors to 10x Genomics.

The acquisition of ReadCoor and CartaNA expands 10x Genomics’ intellectual property to more than 900 patents, providing a comprehensive, foundational basis for further growth in the in situ field. These companies also add deep and varied human expertise in this niche field to 10x Genomics’ multidisciplinary team.

“Our team has been focused on developing in situ technologies for a number of years, starting with work at Stockholm University and Karolinska Institute,” Malte Kuhnemund, co-founder and EVP of R&D at CartaNA, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to join 10x and become a part of its Swedish research center in Stockholm as we continue to build and deliver products for scientists around the globe.”

The two acquisitions, therefore, are integral parts of 10x Genomics’ long-term strategy to help scientists master biology and thus improve human health.

“That’s why they’re so exciting,” Saxonov said.

Announcing the ReadCoor acquisition and closing the CartaNA acquisition within a few months “goes back to our overarching philosophy of how we build products and think about markets and customers,” Saxonov said.

“Many of our customers are thought leaders in biology,” Saxonov continued. “Our goal is to always push the frontiers of biology. We identified in situ analysis some time ago as being important and have been analyzing the way it can be done. Most approaches are in the very early stages. We made some internal investments and converged on ReadCoor and CartaNA as having the most advanced, functional intellectual property. Now we plan to build on this foundation to build amazing products for our customers.”

He said the combined strengths of the companies confers a comparative advantage on 10x Genomics that is conveyed to its customers around the world.

In situ approaches will give scientists the ability to measure large numbers of molecules directly in tissue by capturing the precise location of those molecules at sub-cellular resolution. Currently, most molecular analysis involves removing those molecules from their native environment, Saxonov noted. In situ analysis, in contrast, enables a more comprehensive, systemic approach that, ultimately, may better reflect what occurs in the human body.

This new, in situ, platform complements the company’s Chromium Single Cell platform and its Visium Spatial platform. The latest Chromium product, announced in September, combines the analysis of epigenetics and the genetic expression of RNA in one product, while Visium performs spatial genomic analysis.

“Our goal has always been to anticipate the frontiers of biology and build products that accelerate science in exponential ways,” Saxonov said.

That approach is grounded in discussions with thought leaders in biological research throughout the world to anticipate not only what they need today, but to anticipate the challenges they will face and the questions they will be asked several years from now.

That approach is shared by ReadCoor. As ReadCoor founder and CEO Richard Terry said in a statement, “We conceived of in situ approaches early on as the best way to perform genomic analysis and develop powerful clinical applications. Since then, we have been innovating and building out an extensive range of capabilities to bring those ideas to reality and transform the world of biomedicine. We have followed and been impressed with 10x Genomics for years and look forward to combining forces as we execute on a shared vision.”

10x Genomics expects to complete the acquisition of ReadCoor by the end of October, pending approval by ReadCoor’s shareholders.

“We don’t have a monopoly on innovation,” Saxonov said, “so we’re always scanning for opportunities to drive strategic innovation.”

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