MENLO PARK, Calif.—Akoya Biosciences Inc. announced in early December the completion of a $50-million financing round from both new and existing investors. The round will fund the expansion of commercial and operational resources, as well as continued product development of Akoya’s CODEX and Phenoptics platforms for spatial biology.
“Akoya is proud of and thankful for our new partners, as well as our long-term relationship with Telegraph Hill Partners,” says Brian McKelligon, CEO of Akoya. “These new partnerships validate Akoya’s product lines and commercial trajectory.” The financing was led by Piper Jaffray Merchant Banking, a division of Piper Jaffray, with continued participation from Telegraph Hill Partners. New strategic partners include Agilent Technologies Inc. and Innovatus Capital Partners LLC. This financing round follows Akoya’s September 2018 Series C funding, which was used to support the acquisition of the Phenoptics portfolio from PerkinElmer Inc.
“We are excited to support Akoya’s efforts to commercialize multispectral imaging solutions to unlock the full potential of spatial biology,” noted Claes Ekstrom, managing director at Innovatus.
The new financing will enable further product development of the CODEX and Phenoptics platforms for multiplexed immunofluorescence imaging and analysis, commercial expansion and the scale-up of operations and manufacturing. These expansions are driven by dramatic growth in the immuno-oncology market. There is mounting evidence that spatial analysis using multiplex immunofluorescence is critical to understanding cancer’s complexity and could potentially provide more power for predicting patient response to immunotherapies.
“Akoya is transforming how immunotherapies are developed, from discovery of novel biomarkers in the tumor microenvironment, to deploying high-throughput, highly sensitive information to direct patient therapies. Our investment represents our confidence in Akoya’s relentless execution to deliver the next generation of pathology tools,” added Thomas Schnettler, managing director at Piper Jaffray and a new member of Akoya’s board of directors.
“The first generation of CODEX was launched in 2019, so there is considerable runway for platform improvement, optimization and assay development,” McKelligon mentions. “Phenoptics has already been established as the standard for multiplex IF translational studies, and our focus on that platform will be to prepare it for clinical applications such as companion diagnostics.”
“With the rapid advancement in immunotherapy, today’s researchers require next-generation tools to discover novel biomarkers and high-throughput, reproducible platforms that can scale to the large cohorts required in clinical research. The CODEX platform as a discovery tool enables simultaneous analysis of over 40 individual markers, while maintaining the tissue quality, allowing researchers to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a tissue sample,” he continues.
“The Phenoptics platform, including the Opal dyes and inForm software paired with the Vectra Polaris system, provides the industry standard for end-to-end, whole slide analysis of up to seven colors and more than 30 slides per day. Discoveries made on the CODEX system can rapidly be turned into high-throughput assays for clinical and translational studies.”
When asked what is next for the two platforms, McKelligon states, “Akoya is making great strides in the advancement both platforms. Key for the CODEX platform is a broad expansion to the antibody content to enable new application areas such as neurobiology and other challenging tissue types. At SITC, we showcased novel amplification methods to increase the sensitivity of the CODEX assay, which will be important for detection of lower expressed biomarkers.”
“On the Phenoptics platform, our focus has been to develop pre-optimized panels in a number, including the Immuno-oncology panels released in late 2019, containing PD-1/PD-L1 and other critical I/O markers. Lastly, we are spending considerable efforts toward streamlining the data storage and analysis methods,” he finishes. “The new Proxima analysis platform will be a unifying method for the complexities in accessing, analyzing and sharing the large volumes of data.”