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Cell Biology Tools Companies Merge in $57.8M Deal

DNA chip graphic

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

22 Dec. 2022. Two providers of technologies for cellular analysis are merging to form a new company focusing on cell biology research tools, in a sign of continued industry consolidation. Berkeley Lights Inc. in Emeryville, California is acquiring IsoPlexis in Branford, Connecticut to form the company PhenomeX, in a transaction valued at $57.8 million.

IsoPlexis is a biotechnology company developing tools for proteomics, or analysis of proteins produced in individual cells. The company says its analytics reveal proteins generated by single immune-system cells that make possible immune responses to disease. IsoPlexis says it collected a library of what it calls functional human and animal-model immune cells with detailed data on proteins corresponding to those cells. This cell-protein library, says the company, offers a complement to the Human Cell Atlas, a reference map for disease diagnosis and analysis. IsoPlexis says from its cell-protein library, the company offers insights into mechanisms for precise diagnostics and treatments for cancer, Covid-19 and other infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and regenerative medicine.

Berkeley Lights offers digital technologies for analysis of cells, down to individual cells, for researchers. The company provides microfluidic or lab-on-a-chip devices with tiny nanoscale wells it says are 100,000 times smaller than conventional microscale wells, which make single-cell analysis more feasible. Berkeley Lights says its technology makes possible a wide range of cellular analytics for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. The company often collaborates with other biotechnology and research enterprises. In July 2022, for example, Science & Enterprise reported on a discovery by Berkeley Lights and Aanika Biosciences, an agriculture biotechnology company, of a peptide molecule with antimicrobial properties for faster identification and containment of food contamination outbreaks.

“Technology leader in functional cell biology”

PhenomeX, the enterprise formed from the merger, is expected to create tools for single-cell analysis that reveal their functional phenotypes, or biological traits and characteristics including proteomics. The companies anticipate PhenomeX will offer a wider range of life science research tools and improved productivity, as well as a more diversified customer base and greater return on their R&D investments. Siddhartha Kadia, CEO of Berkeley Lights will be PhenomeX’s CEO, while IsoPlexis CEO Sean Mackay will become chief product officer of the combined company.

“This transaction,” says Mackay in a joint statement, “brings together two companies whose innovative solutions will help establish a technology leader in functional cell biology.” Kadia adds, “This transaction accelerates our progress across every core pillar of our strategic plan and creates a path to achieving positive operating cash flow earlier than we expected to as a standalone company.”

Berkeley Lights is acquiring IsoPlexis in an all-stock transaction, with IsoPlexis shareholders receiving 0.612 shares of Berkeley Lights stock for each IsoPlexis share held. Following completion of the merger, Berkeley Lights are expected to own 75 percent of PhenomeX, while IsoPlexis holds 25 percent. The transaction, say the companies, is valued at $57.8 million. In Oct. 2021, IsoPlexis raised $125 million in its initial public offering, with shares trading at $15.00. Before the merger announcement yesterday, its shares traded at less than $1.00.

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