Spatial Biology and Spatial Omics Imaging Systems

Spatial biology is a rapidly growing segment of the life science tools market, driven by the expansion of cellular studies from bulk analysis to single-cells analysis and progress in multi-omic research, among other factors. Technology advances have also grown the market by enabling automated and higher-resolution analysis and greater multiplexing.

The lab tool market for spatial cell biology is expected to expand at a CAGR in the high single digits over next five years, according to a new report from Strategic Directions International (SDi). According to the report, the spatial biology tools market encompasses five categories: Microscopy, Other Imaging Systems (such as molecular spectroscopy), Spatial Omics Imaging Systems, MALDI-TOF and Sample Prep.

Relatively few companies offer techniques in more than one of the five technology categories.

Major vendors in the market include 10x Genomics, Bruker and Leica Microsystems (a Danaher company). Relatively few companies offer techniques in more than one of the five technology categories. The companies that do are Agilent Technologies, Bruker, Miltenyi Biotec, PicoQuant, Shimadzu, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Zeiss.

Among the overall market’s largest vendors is 10x Genomics, even though it participates in only the Spatial Omics Imaging Systems segment. 10x Genomics offers the Visium in situ sequencing–based system for spatial transcriptomics. Last year, it launched the Xenium system for in situ spatial biology, which is an imaging-based platform. The company offers instruments, consumables, software and services, as well as partnerships with a number of service providers. As of August, the company had shipped 100 Xenium systems, which was launched late last year.

10x Genomics’ major competitor is NanoString Technologies. NanoString Technologies provides the CosMx Spatial Molecular Imaging (SMI) system for spatial transcription utilizing imaging or NGS. Its GeoMx Digital Spatial Profiler (DSP) enables whole transcriptome profiling. The company reported a total installed base for both systems of 510 instruments as of the end of September. The GeoMx DSP was launched in 2019, while the CosMx SMI was launched in December 2022.

According to a survey of end-users included in the SDi report, providers of other popular Spatial Omics Imaging Systems are Akoya Biosciences, Bio-Techne and Miltenyi Biotec. Akoya Biosciences offers the PhenoCycler solution, based on its CODEX (CO-detection by indexing) technology which uses a customer’s fluorescence microscope, and the PhenoImager its Multispectral Imaging technology. Bio-Techne’s ACDBio-brand RNAScope, Base Scope and miRNAscope assay rely on ISH-based technology and use the end-user’s microscopes. Miltenyi Biotec offers the MACSima Platform based on its MICS (MACSima Imaging Cyclic Staining) technology.

The dynamics of the market, however, are quickly evolving. 10x Genomics recently won a permanent injunction against the sale of NanoString’s CosMx system and reagents for RNA detection in Germany and 17 European countries. It is undertaking a similar strategi in the US and a jury recently awarded the company over $31 million in damages. 10x Genomics has filed a patent infringement suit against VizGen in Germany and the US.

In addition, new and potential market entrants are gaining momentum. Last year, Resolve Biosciences raised $71 million in a Series B round to grow its ISH-based Molecular Cartography technology business. The company announced the launch of its workflow in June 2022.This month, Stellaromics announced a $25 million Series A financing round to help commercialize its STARmap (Spatially-resolved Transcript Amplicon Readout mapping) technology, a single-molecule FISH–based approach.

The spatial biology market has and will continue to progress in making new spatial biology solutions accessible to more labs and though techniques building upon traditional IHC and ISH approaches.