Biopharmaceutical research and development relies on a number of routine techniques, including cell analysis, sorting, imaging, fluorescent assays, plating and colony picking. These techniques are time consuming and costly, often requiring multiple items of laboratory equipment for each step.
This changed when Cambridge-based Sphere Fluidics developed novel single cell and picodroplet handling technologies that could perform all the technical steps required in biopharmaceutical workflows for analysis, discovery and development at the single cell level.
In 2015, Sphere Fluidics approached TTP with a brief to create a compact and user-friendly single cell analysis instrument based on their technology. During the subsequent development partnership, TTP designed and developed the Cyto-Mine® system.
TTP has a world-class reputation for excellence in developing highly complex instrumentation effectively. Their multi-disciplinary team are highly experienced and were able to deliver in a variety of areas from optics to fluidics, from software to systems integration, very quickly. This, coupled with their commercial acumen and drive to bring our idea to reality, made them our ideal partner.
What we did
We rapidly assembled a multi-disciplinary project team with expertise in: biology; microfluidics; optics; algorithm development; and engineering and manufacture. Members of the team were specifically chosen to address key elements of the brief.
One of the more notable requirements of the brief was the need to find a way to dispense single viable cells into wells at the end of the process. After finding that no off-the-shelf solutions were suitable, we developed a new approach and produced functional prototypes of the system for Sphere Fluidics. This TTP technology was then integrated with Sphere Fluidics’ technology to create the final Cyto-Cartridge® and the Cyto-Mine® system.
Cyto-Mine® is an easy-to-use instrument that fits into a standard biological safety cabinet and works with the low-cost, single-use Cyto-Cartridge®. Cyto-Mine® can deliver up to 200,000 single cells (or up to 40 million cells in pools) in a matter of hours, compared to 10,000 cells delivered in weeks by traditional workflows. This translates into dramatic cost and time reductions in biopharmaceutical discovery and process development.
Crucially, for confidence in monoclonality, Cyto-Mine® achieves single cell dispensing for 99.9% of cells-in-picodroplets. Cyto-Mine® also offers a range of single cell analysis workflows for different research applications.
In 2017, Sphere Fluidics launched the Cyto-Mine® Single Cell Analysis System as its flagship product for the pharmaceutical and cell research industries market, marking an important milestone in the company’s history.