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How 10x Genomics Helped Achieve Breakthroughs in Cystic Fibrosis and COVID

By Keith Speights - Apr 5, 2021 at 10:02AM

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The company's genomics technology was important in the research of these two diseases.

10x Genomics' (TXG -4.76%) technology has been used by researchers to investigate multiple diseases over the last few years. In this video recorded on March 11, 2021, Motley Fool contributor Keith Speights talks with 10x Genomics CEO and co-founder Serge Saxonov about two areas where his company's technology has played especially important roles -- cystic fibrosis and COVID-19.

Keith Speights: 10x's technology has been used in a lot of scientific discovery already. Is there one particular application that really stands out to you that maybe you are the most proud of that your platform has been used? I noticed some of the research in cystic fibrosis, but I don't know if that's it, but what particular application of your platform really stands out in your view?

Serge Saxonov: Yes, it's interesting, it's a good question because actually, over time, it's gotten harder and harder to answer because there's been more and more applications and more uses. It's actually harder now how to answer the opposite question, like where has it not been used? Which area of biology has not seen major discoveries because of our platforms?

The case of cystic fibrosis was a pretty early one and that appealed to me because it connects back to some of the fundamental genetics and the things that we dealt with at 23andMe. This is again a very early study using our technology where researchers mapped out very basic foundational scientific endeavor of mapping out the human and the mouse lung -- what kinds of cells are present in there -- and generally lots of data unexpectedly discovered a new cell type. Had no idea that it existed there.

Turns out, it's the cell that expresses CFTR, which is the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis, which is the most common inherited disease in this country and most countries around the world. It's a disease that we thought we understood really well for the past 20 years, but as it turned out, there was this huge major element to it that we had no idea. Turns out, again, this gene is only expressed not throughout your lung, but in a very specific place, and changes how we think about it and how we should think about therapy.

But since then, it's been lots of lots of other use cases. Certainly last year, there was a huge increase in how our tools have been used in infectious disease, with COVID, specifically.

It's interesting, looking back to last January where all of a sudden we started getting all these orders from China. People who were working started looking at the interesting infectious diseases, pulled their attention to focusing on this.

Then over the course of the past year, I think just about every aspect from very basic understanding, how does the virus actually get into the body, what tissues it infects, to making antibody therapeutics, to helping develop vaccines to understanding what separates people who have severe response to those who have mild response, and how to treat them differently.

All of those instances, our tools have been used in big publications that have come out. With some recency bias, maybe I will point to COVID as an example.

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