Professor Chris Abell FRS, FMedSci (1957 – 2020)

Professor Chris Abell FRS, FMedSci (1957 – 2020)

 

Sphere Fluidics is greatly saddened to share the news that our co-founder and Chairman of our Scientific Advisory Board, Professor Chris Abell, has suddenly passed away. Professor Abell was also the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Professor of Biological Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. 

 

Dr. Frank F. Craig, CEO, Sphere Fluidics, said: “As a world-leading scientist, Chris has been responsible for significant advances in his field. His two main areas of research being fragment-based drug discovery and droplet-based microfluidics. He has also been immensely successful in commercialising his work, resulting in the creation of Astex Technology Ltd (1999), Akubio (2001), Sphere Fluidics (2010) and Aqdot (2013). His outstanding scientific ability has contributed to new research and created numerous jobs for the Cambridge community, demonstrating his lasting impact on the pharmaceutical industry. He will be remembered by us all at Sphere Fluidics as an inspirational scientist, colleague and friend that we will greatly miss.”

 

 

Sphere Fluidics in IBI – International Biopharmaceutical Industry

 

Featured Article in IBI Volume 3 Issue 2: Faster Drug Discovery with Picodroplet Technologies

 

Automated platforms based on picodroplet microfluidic technologies are one of the most promising tools for improving drug discovery efficiency. By encapsulating single cells in miniaturised, aqueous picolitre compartments, called picodroplets, these technologies provide a high-throughput and sensitive method to identify high-affinity, high-potency drug candidates with better biotherapeutic profiles and faster developability timelines.

This article has been published in Volume 3 Issue 2 of the IBI journal

Sphere Fluidics in European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer

 

Featured Article in European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer: Streamlined Transformation

 

By combining picodroplet microfluidics, robotic automation and AI-supported image analysis technologies, scientists can now identify and isolate rare antigen-specific B cells from large heterogeneous populations in just two days. These capabilities are revolutionizing the current drug discovery process.

Read our feature article in European Pharmaceutical Manufacturer to learn more:

 

 

Sphere Fluidics and Heriot-Watt University collaborate to develop next generation droplet generator instrumentation

Sphere Fluidics and Heriot-Watt University collaborate to develop next generation droplet generator instrumentation

 

Partnership awarded Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership grant

John McGrath appointed as Research Scientist to support development work

 

Cambridge and Edinburgh, UK, 20 July 2020: Sphere Fluidics, a company developing single cell analysis systems underpinned by its patented picodroplet technology, and Heriot-Watt University, a specialist, pioneering Scottish University, today announced they have been awarded a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. The grant will facilitate the development of novel droplet generator instrumentation, which will be used to expand Sphere Fluidics’ portfolio of microfluidic instruments for advanced biologics discovery and therapeutic cell line development.

Awarded to promote the collaboration of knowledge, technology and skills within the UK Knowledge Base, the KTP has been granted to Sphere Fluidics, in partnership with Dr. Graeme Whyte, Associate Professor at Heriot-Watt University. The two-year project will develop next-generation intelligent instrumentation and advance research across a range of picodroplet techniques, allowing scientists to discover rare cell phenotypes and to help to solve a range of biological questions ranging from antibody discovery to antimicrobial resistance, enzyme evolution and synthetic biology. The novel platform for semi-automated picodroplet production will be employed by the Company to improve control of droplet production, using advanced imaging technology.

As part of the project, Dr. John McGrath has been appointed to Sphere Fluidics’ team as a Research Scientist in physics and engineering, to support the transfer of cutting-edge research into the Company’s portfolio of single cell analysis instruments, including for several new commercial products. Used by researchers in a number of application areas, Sphere Fluidics’ picodroplet-based technologies provide improved throughput, accuracy, and sensitivity to enable leading-edge research and accelerate biopharmaceutical discovery and development.

 

Dr. Marian Rehak, VP of Research and Development at Sphere Fluidics, said:This innovative project with Heriot-Watt University, will bring together aspects of microfluidic and optical design, technology development and product design engineering to develop a new class of instrument for cell-based picodroplet discovery. We are delighted to have been awarded the KTP Fellowship and to welcome Dr. John McGrath to the Sphere Fluidics team. The work demonstrates the importance of collaboration between academic and industrial partners to support the advancement of novel microfluidic technologies for ground-breaking research.”

 

 

Associate Professor Graeme Whyte, School of Engineering Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University said: “This partnership between Heriot-Watt University and Sphere Fluidics will support the rapid translation of academic findings into intelligent technological solutions. The microfluidic platform in development can be utilized by scientists to solve a range of important biological questions across the life sciences sector.”

 

 

 

Dr. John McGrath, Research Scientist at Sphere Fluidics, commented: I am thrilled to be working alongside commercial and academic leaders in the research and development of microfluidic instruments and technology. The ease of use and broader application set of the instrument to be developed in this project should lower the barrier to entry for a wide number of scientists, who are focused upon high-throughput screening, synthetic biology, gene editing, and antimicrobial resistance workflows. The technology has the potential to be a key driver in  increasing the uptake of picodroplet microfluidic instruments.”

 

For further information about Sphere Fluidics, please visit: www.spherefluidics.com   

 

About Sphere Fluidics www.spherefluidics.com

Sphere Fluidics develops and manufactures single cell analysis and monoclonality assurance systems to enable leading edge research and accelerate biotherapeutic discovery and development. The Company’s picodroplet incubation technology enables ultra-sensitive, rapid miniaturized assays of target protein secreted from tens of millions of individual cells.

Sphere Fluidics’ Cyto-Mine® System integrates isolation, selective screening, sorting, imaging and clone verification into a single automated platform to streamline workflows, reduce costs, improve throughput and enable high-value clones to be captured in a single run. Its Picodroplet Single Cell Analysis and Isolation System offers state-of-the-art microfluidics technology inside an easy-to-use, semi-automated system, designed with the flexibility to easily integrate into research processes.

Sphere Fluidics is located in Babraham Research Campus and Granta Park in Cambridgeshire (UK). The Company has also internationalized its business via a global network of distributors. Follow Sphere Fluidics on Twitter @SphereFluidics and LinkedIn @Sphere Fluidics Limited.

 

About Heriot-Watt University www.hw.ac.uk

Heriot-Watt has a strong heritage which informs on its vision for the future as a progressive, connected global university. From its roots in Scotland in 1821 as the world’s first Institute of Mechanics, Heriot-Watt has developed as a pioneer of international education with strong values around access to higher education and outstanding performance in graduate employability.

Heriot-Watt’s remarkable development as a globally connected university with campuses in Scotland, Dubai and Malaysia, won the accolade of ‘International University of the Year’ from the Sunday Times and the Times newspapers in 2018.

Through its ‘Strategy 2025’, Heriot-Watt is driving forwards as an international university which places students and staff at the heart of everything it does. By Shaping Tomorrow Together, it continues to build an international presence and impact through its campuses and partnerships, focusing on its strengths in learning and teaching and research – in pursuit of knowledge for the benefit of society and the world.

 

About Innovate UK www.gov.uk/government/organisations/innovate-uk

Sphere Fluidics receives Queen’s Award for Enterprise

Sphere Fluidics receives Queen’s Award for Enterprise

 

Single cell analysis for therapeutic discovery recognized with prestigious business award for innovation

 

Cambridge, UK, 21 April 2020: Sphere Fluidics, a company commercializing single cell analysis systems underpinned by its patented picodroplet technology, has been honored with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation. The award recognizes the Company’s excellence in patenting, developing and globally commercializing single cell analysis systems for biotherapeutic discovery.

Using its state-of-the-art picodroplet technology, Sphere Fluidics develops and commercializes novel, single cell analysis systems for the rapid screening and characterization of single cells to enable leading edge research and accelerate biopharmaceutical discovery and development. The Company’s flagship product is the multi-award winning, Cyto-Mine® System, which integrates isolation, selective screening, sorting, and imaging into a single automated platform to streamline workflows, reduce costs, improve throughput and enable high-value cells to be captured in a single run.

Sphere Fluidics spun out from the University of Cambridge in 2010 and now employs 31 people.

 

Dr. Frank F. Craig, CEO, Sphere Fluidics, said: We are immensely proud to have our pioneering approach to single cell analysis recognized with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. This is a testament to the hard work and expertise of our dedicated team who have a deep understanding of the challenges faced by researchers in drug discovery, therapeutics and diagnostics.

Sphere Fluidics’ technology is specifically designed to increase the chances of finding that rare molecule or cell that could lead to a life-changing medicine. Our systems help make the development of new biopharmaceuticals faster and more cost-effective, improve monoclonal antibody screening, cell line development, and overall efficiency to help accelerate research into new therapeutic modalities. Our technology is highly innovative and is covered by 148 international patents and 18 trademarks.”

 

Sphere Fluidics is one of 220 organizations nationally to be recognized with a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Now in its 54th year, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are among the most prestigious business awards in the country, with winning businesses able to use the esteemed Queen’s Awards emblem for the next five years.  Sphere Fluidics will be invited to celebrate its award during a royal reception for Queen’s Awards winners in the summer.

 

For further information about Sphere Fluidics, please visit: www.spherefluidics.com

For more information about the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise.

 

 

For further information please contact:

 

Sphere Fluidics

Dr. Frank F. Craig

Tel: +44 1223 628898

Email: frank.craig@spherefluidics.com

 

Zyme Communications

Dr. Michelle Ricketts

Tel: +44 (0)778 9053 885

Email: michelle.ricketts@zymecommunications.com

 

About Sphere Fluidics

Sphere Fluidics develops and manufactures single cell analysis and monoclonality assurance systems to enable leading edge research and accelerate biotherapeutic discovery and development.  The Company’s picodroplet incubation technology enables ultra-sensitive, rapid miniaturized assays of target protein secreted from tens of millions of individual cells.

Sphere Fluidics’ Cyto-Mine® System integrates isolation, selective screening, sorting, imaging and clone verification into a single automated platform to streamline workflows, reduce costs, improve throughput and enable high-value clones to be captured in a single run. Its Picodroplet Single Cell Analysis and Isolation System offers state-of-the-art microfluidics technology inside an easy-to-use, semi-automated system, designed with the flexibility to easily integrate into research processes.

Sphere Fluidics is located in Babraham Research Campus and Granta Park in Cambridgeshire (UK). The Company has also internationalized its business via a global network of distributors.

Follow Sphere Fluidics on Twitter @SphereFluidics and LinkedIn @Sphere Fluidics Limited.

3 Ways Microfluidics Is Transforming Biologics

 

3 Ways Microfluidics Is Transforming Biologics

 

New technologies are advancing what is possible in the biopharmaceutical industry, and droplet microfluidics is at the forefront of several exciting developments. At Sphere Fluidics’ Discovery Day, which took place at Granta Park, Cambridge on 3 March 2020, we heard from some of the leading experts and researchers in the sector and learnt about how picodroplet technology has redefined processes and workflows in biologics discovery and development.

 

1. Application of Cyto-Mine® to Antibody Screening

Darren Schofield, a Senior Scientist within the Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering Department at AstraZeneca, kicked off the Discovery Day’s Antibody Discovery and Development track. Darren focused on innovations including the application of Sphere Fluidics’ Cyto-Mine® as an emerging antibody discovery technology and the sequencing of antibody repertoires from immunised animals at a single cell level. In the recent study performed on a frozen vial of mouse lymphocytes, AstraZeneca used Sphere Fluidics’ Cyto-Mine® to screen up to 40 million cells from immunized animals for subsequent single cell antibody sequencing animals. Researchers first used a bulk IgG FRET assay to detect all IgG-secreting cells. Then in the second screening round, they used an antigen-specific FRET assay to detect cells secreting antigen-specific antibodies. AstraZeneca completed this two-step process in just two days.

An overview of the Cyto-Mine® Antibody Discovery process

Darren was followed by GlaxoSmithKline’s Irene Sanjuan-Nandin and Manjunath Hegde, who while reviewing microfluidic single B cell screening strategies, demonstrated that Cyto-Mine® is a robust method for identifying rare antigen-specific B cells. Their talk also explored a range of challenges and opportunities in the therapeutic monoclonal antibody discovery process, such as the development of multi-parametric screening assays required for antibody discovery.

 

2. Application of Cyto-Mine® to Cell Line Development

Jonathan Dempsey, the Managing Director of Dempsey Consulting and founding Partner of Pathway Biopharma Consulting, introduced the Cell Line Development track by providing an overview of CHO cell lineage, and the transformative potential of genomics and synthetic biology in optimizing host cell lines.

Alison Young, a Staff Scientist within the Mammalian Cell Culture group at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, spoke further on the topic of host cell line optimization, explaining the steps to obtain a host with improved biomanufacturing attributes using directed evolution strategies. Alison also presented a cell line development approach using Sphere Fluidics’ Cyto-Mine® to combat cellular heterogeneity.  This process involves optimizing the input cell concentration by diluting transfected pools to a low density before encapsulating single cells into picodroplets. Then a fluorescent assay is carried out to select picodroplets that contain a high-expressing single cell these are then imaged and individually dispensed into different wells of a 96-well plate. The imaging functionality of Cyto-Mine® quickly identifies if a picodroplet contains one cell or two and provides documented evidence to prove that a specific cell line is derived from a single cell progenitor.

A summary of how Cyto-Mine® accelerates Cell Line Development

 

3. Application of Cyto-Mine® to Genome Editing

New product developments and emerging scientific research were explored in the closing talk by Sphere Fluidics’Group Leader of Cell and Molecular Biology, Xin Liu. Building upon the earlier examples of using Cyto-Mine® as a screening tool in antibody discovery and cell line development, Xin demonstrated the application of Cyto-Mine® as a tool for both cell engineering and screening in genome editing. In a genome editing experiment in Cyto-Mine®, scientists co-encapsulated an HCT116 cell line (Horizon Discovery, UK) together with a viral vector, which contained Cas9 eGFP, and a construct to tag the protein, actin with RFP. Successful cell transduction was highlighted as green fluorescent protein expression. After a 16-hour incubation, using Cyto-Mine®, cells were sorted and selected based on the expression of green fluorescence and single cells were dispensed into multi-well plates. One day after the single cell was dispensed, the green fluorescence inside the cells can still be seen, confirming the expression of Cas9 eGFP, after six days and 13 days culture,  the single cells had grown to form monoclonal colonies. At day 13 in culture, the colonies were investigated to identify the genome edits. Successful genome-editing events were confirmed by the presence of red fluorescence indicating that the RFP tagged actin protein was expressed.

An example of genome editing in Cyto-Mine®

Heading into the evening, the attendees had the opportunity to discuss their single cell research and receive expert advice from the Sphere Fluidics’  science team. Overall, the event provided excellent insight into the beginnings of the community, fostering open discussions and knowledge sharing to accelerate progress in biopharmaceutical discovery.

 

Sphere Fluidics Announces Expert Panel for Inaugural Discovery Day

Sphere logo

 

Sphere Fluidics Announces Expert Panel for Inaugural Discovery Day

 

Six speakers have been announced for the inaugural Sphere Fluidics’ Discovery Day, a user-group style conference taking place at the Granta Center, Cambridge, on Tuesday, March 3. The free one-day event brings together industry leaders and researchers to explore how picodroplet technology has redefined processes and workflows in biologics discovery and development.

From antibody discovery to cell line development to synthetic biology and genome editing, the Discovery Day offers insight into the latest advances in single cell technology that are transforming these fields. Invited speakers include fellow researchers, industry members, and super users of our picodroplet technology that is enabling leading-edge research and accelerating biopharmaceutical discovery.

Darren Schofield is a Senior Scientist within the Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering Department at AstraZeneca, UK. Using recent case studies, the talk will highlight how emerging technologies are shaping the future of biologics discovery; through advances in in silico structural prediction tools, single cell RNA sequencing technologies, and the use of microfluidic technologies for antibody repertoire screening.

Also speaking at the Discovery Day is Jonathan Dempsey, Managing Director of Dempsey Consulting and a founding Partner of Pathway Biopharma Consulting. As a specialist in mammalian cell line development, upstream process development, Jon will review the major methods and technologies currently used in cell line development and introduce a suggested roadmap for the development and optimisation of an expression platform.

Joining Schofield and Dempsey are Irene Sanjuan-Nandin and Manjunath Hegde from GlaxoSmithKline. Irene Sanjuan-Nandin is an Investigator in the Antibody Selections team at Biopharm Discovery, and Manjunath Hegde is an investigator in Biopharm Discovery. With a focus on antigen-specific single-B cell screening, the talk will demonstrate the potential of microfluidic picodroplet technology for antibody discovery with a proof of concept study by generating antibodies against two different therapeutic targets.

Alison Young, a Staff Scientist within the Mammalian Cell Culture group at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies will also be speaking. Drawing upon her work to establish a robust cell line development process for the Apollo™ X mammalian expression platform system, the talk will explain how the adoption of Sphere Fluidics’ Cyto-Mine® technology resulted in a reduction in cell line development timelines from 25 to 10 weeks.

Finally, Xin Liu, Head of Cell and Molecular Biology at Sphere Fluidics, UK will close the session by showcasing some of the projects that the Sphere Fluidics’ team has been working over the past year, Exciting new developments and applications include biotherapeutics discovery and development, synthetic biology, and genome editing.

Sphere Fluidics’ Discovery Day is a free one-day event exploring the practical application of picodroplet technology across biologics discovery and development. Attendees can expect specialist talks, in-depth case studies, and scientific poster sessions. The day concludes with round table discussions on current biopharma challenges and new applications for picodroplet technology.

Rob Marchmont PhD, VP of Sales and Marketing, Sphere Fluidics said “We are excited to host the first Discovery Day for Cyto-Mine® users and researchers interested in microfluidic picodroplet technology. It provides an opportunity to cover highly technical processes and new developments with top specialists in the field, with lots of opportunities for expert-level discussions. Featuring fascinating talks, new data presentations and informative round table conversations, Sphere Fluidics’ Discovery Day is invaluable for anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of the evolving microfluidic technology landscape and the future of biologics production.”

Limited places are available. Find out more information online at http://spherefluidics-2496087.hs-sites.com/discovery-day-2020.

Cyto-Mine® paper published in SLAS Technology

Cyto-Mine® paper published in SLAS Technology

We’re proud to announce that our scientific paper ‘Cyto-Mine: An Integrated, Picodroplet System for High-Throughput Single-Cell Analysis, Sorting, Dispensing, and Monoclonality Assurance’ has recently been published by SLAS Technology. SLAS Technology is a rigorously peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary journal dedicated to the advancement of technology for conducting life sciences and biomedical R&D.

Abstract

The primary goal of bioprocess cell line development is to obtain high product yields from robustly growing and well-defined clonal cell lines in timelines measured in weeks rather than months. Likewise, high-throughput screening of B cells and hybridomas is required for most cell line engineering workflows. A substantial bottleneck in these processes is detecting and isolating rare clonal cells with the required characteristics. Traditionally, this was achieved by the resource-intensive method of limiting dilution cloning, and more recently aided by semi-automated technologies such as cell sorting (e.g., fluorescence-activated cell sorting) and colony picking. In this paper we report on our novel Cyto-Mine Single Cell Analysis and Monoclonality Assurance System, which overcomes the limitations of current technologies by screening hundreds of thousands of individual cells for secreted target proteins, and then isolating and dispensing the highest producers into microtiter plate wells (MTP). The Cyto-Mine system performs this workflow using a fully integrated, microfluidic Cyto-Cartridge. Critically, all reagents and Cyto-Cartridges used are animal component-free (ACF) and sterile, thus allowing fast, robust, and safe isolation of desired cells.

Read the publication at the link below:

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2472630319892571

 

Sphere Fluidics expands commercial operations to increase supply of Pico-Surf surfactant for droplet microfluidics

Sphere logo

 

Sphere Fluidics expands commercial operations to increase supply of Pico-Surf surfactant for droplet microfluidics

 

  • Investment in resources to meet demand for large-scale supply of patented biocompatible surfactant
  • Pico-Surf offers reliable, highly stable and high-quality droplet generation and processing for microfluidic applications

 

Cambridge, UK, 13 February 2020: Sphere Fluidics, a company commercializing single cell analysis systems underpinned by its patented picodroplet technology, today announced investment in the production and supply of its proprietary biocompatible surfactant, Pico-Surf™, for reliable and highly stable droplet generation and processing. Sphere Fluidics will expand operations to meet demand for large-scale commercial supply of its high-performing surfactant for use in a wide range of microfluidic application workflows.

Pico-Surf is a high-quality and animal-origin-free biocompatible surfactant optimized to support the formation of aqueous solution-in-oil picodroplets. Sphere Fluidics aims to increase production of Pico-Surf by three-fold in 2020, whilst maintaining its industry-leading standards, through significant investment of resources in manufacture and quality control processes, and workforce. As part of Sphere Fluidics’ range of specialist chemicals, Pico-Surf is designed to work effectively and flexibly across a broad range of microfluidic systems, including the Company’s proprietary single cell analysis platforms and applications, such as molecular biology assays, cell secretion assays and cell growth studies.

The unique and patented molecular structure of Pico-Surf stabilizes droplets, and retains and protects their cellular and molecular contents over a wide range of temperatures and biological conditions, helping to ensure high cell viability for improved assay performance. Droplets generated using Pico-Surf show low end point interfacial tension and critical micelle concentration in comparison to other commercially available surfactants. The purity and quality of the surfactant also enables a more efficient droplet sorting process at low voltage. The ready-to-use surfactant is available in large batches or made-to-order with ensured lot-to-lot consistency.

Dr. Marian Rehak, Vice President of Research and Development, Sphere Fluidics, said: We are enthused by the increased demand for Pico-Surf, and eager to mobilize its production to meet demand. Whilst doing so, we will ensure its very high quality control standards are maintained, meaning researchers can continue rely on Pico-Surf to create droplets that are stable and reproducible.”

Rob Treanor, Director of Operations, Sphere Fluidics, commented:Sphere Fluidics’ world-leading expertise in picodroplet technology has enabled the development of an ever-growing range of high-performing patented consumables, vital for the successful use of microfluidic systems. All our consumable products have been designed to be platform-agnostic, so they work effectively with a number of microfluidic systems.”

 

For further information on Pico-Surf, please visit: https://spherefluidics.com/specialist-chemicals/

For further information about Sphere Fluidics’ full range of consumables for microfluidics systems, please visit: https://spherefluidics.com/products/consumables/

 

About Sphere Fluidics

Sphere Fluidics develops and manufactures single cell analysis and monoclonality assurance systems to enable leading edge research and accelerate for biotherapeutic discovery and development. The Company’s picodroplet incubation technology enables ultra-sensitive, rapid miniaturized assays of target protein secreted from tens of millions of individual cells.

Sphere Fluidics’ Cyto-Mine® System integrates isolation, selective screening, sorting, imaging and clone verification into a single automated platform to streamline workflows, reduce costs, improve throughput and enable high-value clones to be captured in a single run. Cyto-Mine® is underpinned by the Company’s patented picodroplet technology, which enables ultra-sensitive, rapid miniaturized assays of target protein secreted from tens of millions of individual cells.

Its Picodroplet Single Cell Analysis and Isolation System offers state-of-the-art microfluidics technology inside an easy-to-use, semi-automated system with variable parameters, to easily integrate into research processes.

Sphere Fluidics is located in Granta Park Cambridgeshire (UK) and Monmouth Junction, New Jersey (USA). The Company is also internationalizing its business via a global network of distributors.

Follow Sphere Fluidics on Twitter @SphereFluidics and LinkedIn @Sphere Fluidics Limited.

 

For further information please contact:

 Dr Zoe Nilsson, Global Product Marketing Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1223 804210

Email: zoe.nilsson@spherefluidics.com