Sphere Fluidics’ Microfluidic Technology
Our technology makes it possible to screen tens of millions of cells. It provides you with the best chance of finding that rare and valuable variant, whether it’s a diseased cell, a valuable biological product or a rare genetic variant. As it can process millions of cells a day, our technology is also perfect for high throughput screening and processing applications.
How do we do this? With our proprietary microfluidic technology that allows the ultra-high throughput analysis of isolated cells in miniaturised (pL to nL) picodroplets. This technology is adopted by our systems to enable faster, less costly and more effective sample screening and biological discovery.
How Our Picodroplet Technology Works
Here at Sphere Fluidics, we often describe picodroplets as miniature ‘test tubes’ for single cells. Our technology makes these pL to nL volume aqueous droplets in oil at a rate of over 100,000 per minute. In fact, our novel microfluidic platform can produce, manipulate, analyse, sort, fuse, split, retrieve and dispense millions of picodroplets per biochip, every day. This allows you to screen a vast number of cells when looking for valuable biological products, cells of interest or conducting extensive genomic screens. It’s also great for automating the processing of millions of discrete samples.
The picodroplets are stabilised using biocompatible surfactants. This makes them usable for much longer, maintains cellular and molecular function, and further enhances the range of experiments you can perform. So you can really get the most from picodroplets when using them for research, therapeutic or diagnostic applications.
Take a look at our video library to see the picodroplet technology in action.
Overcoming Your Research, Bioproduction and Screening Challenges
We strongly believe that single cell analysis is the future of biopharmaceutical production. Traditional analysis techniques, such as clone pickers or flow cytometry, are often time-consuming, difficult to use and have reduced success rates.
As an example, when developing a biopharmaceutical cell line, success is dependent on the isolation of clones that secrete the desired product. Conventional clone-picking techniques that can directly measure secretion are generally low throughput and slow – often it takes three weeks to process 10,000 cells. Other techniques, such as flow cytometry, have a higher throughput, but can exhibit poor antibody detection sensitivity and cells can be damaged by the high shear forces used.
Another critical feature of the cell line development process is ensuring monoclonality for regulatory purposes. This is normally done using separate robotics and cell imaging devices. But these add cost, introduce further process complexity and can expose the cells to contamination.
Using our industrial systems and research instruments, many of these challenges are overcome. For those using our fully automated systems, such as Cyto-Mine® and ESI-Mine™, we are able to introduce an extra dimension of efficiency that increases assay speed and throughput, while reducing reagent usage, hands-on time and resource investment.
See below to learn more about the benefits of our technology.
Technology Benefits of Microfluidics for Research, Bioproduction and Diagnostics
Our unique technology allows you to selectively screen more cells in less time to find unique candidates for therapeutic research, the best clones for bioproduction and rare disease-causing cells for use in research, diagnostics and therapeutics.
By using picodroplets for single-cell analysis, you can process several million cells a day. By separating cells into individual picodroplets, our systems ensure that you get a more accurate measurement of product secretion. In the case of monoclonal antibodies, this allows you to select and isolate many thousands of antigen-specific single cells a day into individual microtitre plate wells. Similar rates can also be seen with other biological products.
When it comes to cellular research, we know how precious and fragile your cells are. That’s why our picodroplets are designed to create a ‘cushion’ around each cell to protect it from shear stress. In addition to the technical benefits, our systems are compact, easy to use by everyone in the lab and guarantee sterility.
Sphere Fluidics’ Picodroplet technology compared to other available approaches:
Future Generations of Our Screening Instruments
Cyto-Mine® is an optical detection platform for measuring cells in picodroplets. It will perform millions of single cell assays, isolate “hits”, enable improved monoclonality assurance and dispense single cells of interest into individual wells of microtitre plates. This system is being especially designed for the biopharmaceutical discovery and development market. Later versions will be launched into other markets, such as single cell disease analysis and cell engineering and isolation. Cyto-Mine® may also be useful for preparation of single cells for downstream genomic, epigenomic or proteomic analysis.
ESI-Mine™ is a label-free platform that will measure molecules, potentially secreted by cells, in picodroplets using an electrospray ionisation mass spectrometer. This can perform hundreds of thousands of tests per day in picolitre volumes and dispense replicate copies of mass spectrometer “hits” into separate wells of a microtitre plate. This system is being designed for the emerging field of synthetic biology and may also have applications in other markets such as metabolomics.