The last 12 months have been a period of growth and of change for multi-omic and synthetic biology solutions firm Telesis Bio. On Jan. 9, the company reported a record $9 million in revenue in preliminary fourth quarter financial results – a 191% increase over the previous year’s Q4. The quarterly results cap a year of strong growth that saw the company’s fiscal year revenue rise to a projected $27 million.
“We are grateful to our Telesis Bio team for their tremendous efforts resulting in a stellar 2022 where we exceeded revenue expectations, delivered meaningful expansion of gross margin due to favorable product mix and cost stabilization and importantly, delivered key products for our customers and achieved milestones for our partners,” said Todd Nelson, CEO and co-founder of Telesis Bio. “We are excited for what is ahead in 2023 and executing on our identified path to achieve positive cash flow by 2H 2024.”
Total operating expenses at Telesis for Q4 are expected to fall between $14 and $15 million, compared to $13 million for the same period of FY2021. The company also reported it had $41 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand as of Dec. 31.
A Year of Dealmaking
The strong revenue for Telesis tracks with a year of dealmaking. Last January, the company announced it had entered into a strategic, multiyear, early access collaboration and licensing agreement with Pfizer to access and further develop Telesis’ novel novel enzymatic DNA synthesis (EDS) technology for potential application by Pfizer for its mRNA-based vaccines and other biopharma products.
Under the agreement, Pfizer gains early access to Telesis technology, including use of its proprietary short oligo ligation assembly (SOLA) EDS technology. SOLA EDS is a research approach designed to reduce timelines for constructing synthetic DNA, RNA, and protein, which could lead to more effective development of mRNA-based vaccines, therapeutics and other biopharma products.
“We believe this strategic, early access collaboration and licensing arrangement is a validation of our cutting-edge SOLA enzymatic DNA synthesis technology and has the potential to accelerate vaccine and biotherapeutic research and development programs for the benefit of humanity,” Nelson said.
The financial terms of the deal included an upfront payment from Pfizer to Telesis, along with success-based technical milestone payments. In the Q4 report, Telesis announced it was successful in achieving the first technical milestone in the Pfizer deal.
Telesis is also eligible to receive additional milestone payments based on the achievement of specified development, regulatory and commercialization goals associated with any products developed from the application of its technology developed and licensed under the agreement.
In September, Telesis announced the launch of its fully automated, high-throughput benchtop instrument for synthetic biology – the BioXP 9600.
“We believe the BioXp 9600 system, the third release on our versatile and powerful BioXp platform, can enable scientists to overcome inefficiencies in their workflows which limit their discovery,” Nelson said. “Demonstrating our commitment, we accelerated development of this system, releasing one quarter ahead of schedule.”
The BioXp system provides overnight, automated synthesis of genes, clones, DNA libraries and mRNA, enabling users to tightly integrate design and build cycles, driving greater productivity and reducing time to answer.
According to Telesis’ Q4 preliminary report, BioXP revenue, which consists of instruments and kits, is projected to be $3 million, up 130% over the same period in 2021.
Nelson said Telesis is expecting to release additional BioXP kits in the first quarter of this year that will “enable scientists to begin the cloning, amplification, and mRNA synthesis process from the customers own linear DNA or plasmid DNA.”
“We believe providing scientists the flexibility to begin with their sequence, linear DNA, or plasmid DNA, will further expand the utility, speed, and impact of the system,” he said. “The versatility of the platform enables us to release additional capabilities intended to optimize discovery workflows.”
Big News in October
Telesis followed up its big product launch of BioXP 9600 in September with more big news in October. On Oct. 12, Telesis Bio was born when the company rebranded itself from its old name Codex DNA. The move also resulted in the company changing its NASDAQ ticker symbol from DNAY to TBIO.
“Codex DNA was founded on innovation and a mission to inspire and empower researchers to accelerate discovery of scientific breakthroughs. We have introduced many firsts in synthetic biology, enabled by our versatile and powerful BioXp automation platform and technologies including Gibson Assembly, SOLA enzymatic DNA synthesis, and proprietary error correction methods,” Nelson said. “Furthering our mission, we have leveraged our capabilities to now provide automated, benchtop solutions for multi-omics applications. Telesis Bio reflects that expansion and growth.”
A week later, on Oct. 19, Telesis announced its first expansion and growth opportunity under its new moniker – a collaboration with San Diego-based Cellibre to optimize development of Telesis Bio’s BioXp Digital-to-Biological Converter (DBC) instrument for fully automated manufacturing of on-demand CRISPR-Cas9 guide RNA (gRNA) for genome editing.
“Our deep and long-standing partnership with Telesis Bio will enhance and expand their highly automated solutions for synthetic biology applications,” said Cellibre CEO Ben Chiarelli. “Together, we can leverage our extensive experience and capabilities in cell engineering and Telesis Bio’s leading automation and enzymatic DNA synthesis technologies to build a robust, on-demand solution for the rapid production of guide RNA.”
The BioXp DBC instrument gives scientists same-day design and build capabilities for their gRNAs without the need to order custom reagents by integrating Telesis Bio’s SOLA EDS technology directly onto its BioXp 9600 system.
As part of the collaboration, Cellibre scientists use their proprietary technology and cell line to evaluate and validate Telesis Bio’s solutions for automated gRNA synthesis while using it to accelerate their cell engineering workflows for various natural product production platforms.
Founded: 2011 (as Codex DNA)
CEO: Todd Nelson
Headquarters: San Diego
Business: Solutions and instruments for multi-omic and synthetic biology.
Stock: TBIO (Nasdaq)
Revenue: Estimated $27 million (FY2022)
Notable: Telesis Bio Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Daniel Gibson is the inventor of the Gibson Assembly – a molecular cloning method that is now the industry standard.