Reimagining cell engineering with picodroplet microfluidic technology


This paid-for advertorial by Sphere Fluidics appeared in the SLAS 2023 Supplement, Volume 24 – Issue 1, Winter 2022/2023

Cell engineering is being held back by lengthy and complicated multi-step workflows. Sphere Fluidics’ Cyto-Mine® system offers a streamlined, automated solution to this challenge using picodroplet microfluidic technology.

Cell engineering is bringing life science into a new era of biotherapeutic discovery and development, disease modelling, and synthetic biology research. However, standard technologies used to ensure the highest value cells are progressed require multistep operations and instruments, extensive hands-on time, and lengthy liquid handling processes, as well as complex, low throughput bioassays for functional validation and verification. Furthermore, evidence of monoclonality must be provided for all cell lines producing biotherapeutic molecules if they are to receive approval from industry regulators. Reliability and speed-to-clinic are key priorities for researchers; there is a growing demand to optimise and accelerate development workflows, to overcome process bottlenecks and ensure laboratories remain at the cutting-edge.

Picodroplet microfluidics is rapidly becoming the technology of choice for single-cell analysis, providing an easy-to-use tool to encapsulate single cells in picolitre-volume aqueous droplets at high throughput rates of thousands of droplets per second. Recognising the challenges associated with traditional bioprocessing methods, Sphere Fluidics has developed Cyto-Mine®, a novel single cell analysis system that uses picodroplet microfluidic technology to create an integrated and automated workflow for single cell genome editing, from intracellular delivery through to clonality verification. 

Featuring well-defined microchannel geometries and accurate flow control, Sphere Fluidics’ proprietary system enables cells to be assayed into individual, highly controlled and uniform micro-reaction chambers for high-throughput bioassays. Within picodroplets, single cells are assayed to identify specific proteins to find rare cells of interest or cells with high productivity. Cyto-Mine® can then selectively sort each cell identified, image the picodroplets to ensure monoclonality, and then dispense ‘hits’ into individual wells of a microtiter plate. As a result, approximately 200,000 cells can be screened in hours, compared with 10,000 typically achieved using multi-step manual techniques. This powerful and sensitive approach offers many benefits over conventional techniques, including a high-throughput workflow to search much larger populations, a precisely defined and controlled microenvironment for cells, highly concentrated volumes to increase detection sensitivity, and low operating costs. Not only does this fully integrated workflow accelerate cell engineering timelines and reduce overall costs, it gives a user-friendly, flexible and controlled option for researchers.

Rather than just simply automating traditional workflows, Sphere Fluidics has developed its systems to facilitate rapid, high-throughput single cell manipulation and analysis across an expanding range of research areas. In addition to cell engineering, the technology is being increasingly adopted within workflows, demonstrating significant savings in time and costs throughout antibody discovery and cell line development processes, to unlock the full potential of biopharmaceutical discovery. 

To learn more at SLAS, Richard Hammond, Sphere Fluidics’ Chief Technical Officer will be presenting “High-throughput cell engineering in microfluidic picodroplets” at 17:30 – 17:50 on Monday 27th February, in the Exhibition Theatre or visit Booth 411.

For more information about Cyto-Mine®, or any other of Sphere Fluidics’ products, please visit: 

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