Quantum-Si (QSI) has accomplished much so far this year. The protein sequencing platform developer opened a 29,420 square-foot headquarters in Branford, CT with a ribbon-cutting ceremony last month that drew notable dignitaries such as Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D). Quantum-Si has signed a seven-year lease that will keep Quantum-Si in Branford at least through 2029.
2023 marks the first year that Quantum-Si has generated revenue ($254,000 on orders of $449,000 during the first quarter) thanks to its Platinum™ instrument, which according to the company is the world’s first next-generation single-molecule protein sequencing platform. Quantum-Si this year has also announced several senior executive appointments, including Jeff Keyes as chief financial officer and Johan Denecke as senior vice president of operations.
“We will do things that seem impossible now” thanks to Platinum, Quantum-Si Founder and Executive Chairman Jonathan Rothberg, PhD predicted at the ceremony. “In the same way that you can’t see something microscopic without a microscope—it’s impossible—we are allowing people to look into your body and see these proteins, and you could never do that before.”
Rothberg told GEN Edge earlier this year why he and the company view Platinum as a milestone in biotech tools: “Most complex diseases are diseases of the proteome, so QSI’s next-generation protein sequencing will be just as transformative” as DNA sequencing proved to be in transforming understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.
This month, investors have finally embraced the stock in earnest, less for what the company has predicted or announced than who is investing in it. Quantum-Si’s shares surged 47% earlier this week, soaring from $2.42 to $3.55 on Tuesday before plateauing, then falling 12% on investor profit-taking Thursday to $3.13, followed by a 3% dip today, to $3.03 in early trading as of 10:30 a.m.
ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG) has raised its stake in Quantum-Si over the past week by snapping up 1.663 million shares, increasing its holdings in the company from 13.023 million shares on July 13. The largest stock purchase was the 1.486 million shares of Quantum-Si that were bought that day, which brought ARKG’s holdings in the company to 14.509 million shares. That deal had a value of $3.8 million, based on the July 13 closing price of $2.58.
ARKG has since raised its proverbial bet on Quantum-Si, holding as many as 14.686 million shares of Quantum-Si as of Thursday, with a market value of $45.967 million based on that day’s closing price. But earlier today, ARKG joined the investor selloff by selling 135,000 shares, bringing its holding to 14.551 million shares.
The fund’s ownership stake in Quantum-Si now stands at 11.97% and a “weight” of 1.93%, the 20th highest percentage of portfolio among the 43 companies in which the fund holds shares, according to the website of ARKG parent ARK Investment Management (ARK Invest), whose chief investment officer and portfolio manager is Catherine D. (Cathie) Wood.
ARKG is an electronic transfer fund concentrating on healthcare and other sectors “expected to substantially benefit from extending and enhancing the quality of human and other life.”
A serial entrepreneur, Rothberg founded Quantum-Si in 2013—two years before being awarded a National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Barack Obama for the pioneering sequencing technology behind one of the 10+ companies he has founded, 454 Life Sciences. Established in 2000, 454 invented and commercialized a semiconductor chip-based sequencing system before being acquired seven years later by Roche.
Quantum-Qi finished going public in 2021 when it completed a business combination with HighCape Capital Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The business combination and a concurrent $425 million private investment in public equity (PIPE), generated net proceeds to Quantum-Si of $512.8 million.
Accounts advised by ARK Invest were among investors leading the PIPE, along with Foresite Capital Management, Eldridge, Glenview Capital Management, and Redmile Group.
The combined company’s Class A common stock and warrants began trading on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbols “QSI” and “QSIAW,” respectively. Shares of Quantum-Si opened at $10.65, but have slipped since then with the rest of the market.
“We went with a SPAC specifically because we are building a platform, and when you build a platform, you have to continue to build both the devices that make the platform—in this case a chip that sees chemistry and allows us to sequence proteins. But you also want to develop a series of applications, and the SPAC allowed us to raise the money to develop both the platforms,” Rothberg told GEN Edge in 2021.
Leaders & laggards
- Amarin (AMRN) shares sank 24% on Wednesday, from $1.43 to $1.08, after the company announced a restructuring that will eliminate all of its U.S. sales force and about 30% of its non-sales positions—a total 120 of its 385 employees. Amarin said it will incur $10 million in charges related to the restructuring, which is projected to cut annual operating costs by $40 million. Amarin also plans to launch an authorized generic version of Vascepa® (icosapent ethyl) to stay competitive with generic versions of the cardiovascular drug in the U.S. Amarin also announced the appointment of a new President and CEO, Patrick Holt. The moves come four months after shareholders ousted Chairman Per Wold-Olsen and elected a slate of seven new board members nominated by Amarin’s largest shareholder, activist investor Sarissa Capital Management.
- BridgeBio (BBIO) shares rocketed 70% on Monday, from $18.22 to $32.04, after the company reported plans to submit a New Drug Application (NDA) for its oral small molecule transthyretin (TTR) stabilizer acoramidis to the FDA before the end of 2023, with regulatory filings in additional markets to follow in 2024. BridgeBio based its decision on positive results from its Phase III ATTRibute-CM trial (NCT03860935) showing that its oral small molecule transthyretin (TTR) stabilizer acoramidis met the study’s primary endpoint (a hierarchical analysis prioritizing in order: all-cause mortality, then frequency of cardiovascular-related hospitalization, then change from baseline in NT-proBNP, then change from baseline in 6-minute walk distance).
- Novan (NVN) shares plunged 70% on Monday, from 61 cents to 18 cents, after the company said it entered into a stalking horse asset purchase agreement with Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND) before filing voluntary Chapter 11 petitions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Novan said it also entered into a secured debtor-in-possession credit facility with Ligand in the principal amount of $15 million, and also entered into a bridge loan with Ligand for the principal amount of $3 million, providing working capital to Novan for general corporate purposes, secured by the assets of the company. Novan also said it plans to continue working with the FDA towards obtaining approval of berdazimer gel, 10.3% (SB206), for which the agency has set a target action date of January 5, 2024.
- ProMIS Neuroscience (PMN) shares more than doubled, zooming 120% on Monday from $2.81 to $6.19 after the company presented positive preclinical data for its lead candidate for Alzheimer’s disease PMN310, a humanized IgG1 antibody directed toward toxic amyloid-beta oligomers (AβO). PMN310 was able to target toxic amyloid-beta oligomers more selectively than other amyloid-beta-directed antibodies which were generated using synthetic oligomers, the company said. ProMIS also presented preclinical mouse studies that further characterize a computationally-derived AD vaccine directed at AβO. The company presented its data at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2023 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
- Vir Biotechnology (VIR) shares tumbled 45% on Thursday, from $23.05 to $12.70, after the company acknowledged that its hemagglutinin targeting influenza A candidate VIR-2482 had failed the Phase II PENINSULA trial (NCT05567783) by missing the study’s primary and secondary efficacy endpoints. Participants receiving the highest dose of VIR-2482 (1,200 mg) showed a non-statistically significant reduction of about 16% in the primary endpoint of influenza A protocol-defined illness compared to placebo. Vir said it was continuing to advance next-generation solutions for serious respiratory infections, including VIR-2981, a neuraminidase-targeting monoclonal antibody candidate for both influenza A and B.