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Proteomics Tools 2.0: Evaluating Next-Generation Solutions

THE COWEN INSIGHT

Herein we detail how next generation proteomics tools are solving limitations of traditional tools (IHC, ELISA, Mass Spectrometry, Flow Cytometry) and are adding functionality.

After years of relatively stagnant innovation in traditional proteomics tools, there are a myriad of new solutions that could lead to material advancements in the field. We estimate that the market opportunity across all classes of proteomics tools (traditional and emerging) could approximate if not exceed $50B.


Assessing New Proteomics Tools

The demand for proteomics tools has always been strong. However, the magnitude of incremental improvements in traditional proteomics tools started to diminish well over a decade ago. In many instances, users were forced to seek alternative solutions to answer key clinical and research questions.

Recently, there have been several promising technological advancements that could serve to materially advance the field and expand the total addressable market. In this report, we:

  1. describe the importance of proteomics
  2. outline the challenges associated with traditional proteomics tools
  3. describe 6 key applications that could be better addressed with next generation proteomics tools
  4. outline different classes of these new tools with detailed descriptions of selected technologies

While not fully comprehensive, our intent is to treat this as a “working document” that can be used as a framework for the community to better understand and assess new proteomics tools

Proteins Are Critical to Biology

Proteins directly orchestrate most of a cell’s functions. Given the central role of proteins in biological systems, there is significant interest in determining protein abundances (which proteins are present), localization (where they are), and activities (what they are doing) within and around cells. This interest is particularly notable at academic institutions, medical centers, and both biopharma and synthetic biology companies.

Traditional Proteomic Tools Have Limitations

There is extraordinary interest in studying proteins, but proteins are notoriously challenging to study. In spite of these challenges, the current market for traditional proteomics tools (mass spectrometry, flow cytometry, IHC/ELISA) approximates or exceeds $10B.

Protein-specific challenges include complexity (sequence, shape, post-translational modifications, etc.), highly-variable abundance (dynamic range), poor stability, and inaccurate inference methods (e.g., RNA abundances poorly predict protein abundances and activities). Traditional tools fail to overcome these challenges, and those that come close are typically some combination of complex, slow, and/or expensive.

Next Generation Proteomics Tools Target Limitations of Traditional Proteomics Tools

There are four classes of next generation proteomics tools:

  1. multi-omic, spatial single cell profilers (“spatialomics”)
  2. higher performing affinity-based detectors
  3. single molecule protein fingerprinters
  4. multi-omic, functional single cell profilers

While most of these technologies are at an early stage of commercial development (or, in some instances, are precommercial), the associated aggregate market opportunity could grow into the $10s-of-billions

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