2020 marked the tenth anniversary of Sphere Fluidics and an important milestone reinforcing what we have achieved as a team towards our mission. Since spinning out from the University of Cambridge in 2010, it has been our vision to provide technology to enable single cell biology to solve global health issues and here are some key achievements on our journey to date.
Industrialization of picodroplet microfluidics
Setting up a dedicated lab and office space on the Babraham Research Campus (near Cambridge, UK) was an early milestone. With these new capabilities, we accelerated our work with pharmaceutical and biotech companies to address industry challenges with picodroplet microfluidics and help shape the applications of our technology.
Early products were separate, non-integrated instruments and biochips, far from the automated systems we later developed. But these projects industrialized the use of picodroplets in biopharmaceutical workflows and successfully transitioned our technology from an academic pursuit into robust research instrumentation for high-throughput and sensitive single cell analysis.
Product line extension
The shift from a mainly services-based organization, into a product-based company, is another fundamental achievement. Since formation, we have commercialized 32 products and developed an international portfolio of 162 patents and 21 trademarks.
We subsequently extended our product line to include a range of patented specialist chemicals, biochip systems and picodroplet-microfluidic instruments that are complemented by R&D services. Our biocompatible surfactant, Pico-Surf™, is now established as a top-performing surfactant for droplet microfluidics in multiple scientific publications. We also sell large quantities to other droplet companies who appreciate the scientific design and quality of our specialist chemicals.
However, the most remarkable advancement has been developing and delivering, Cyto-Mine® - recognized by The Scientist as one of the Top 10 innovations of 2018. Cyto-Mine® is the first automated and fully integrated, single-cell analysis system for single-cell screening, dispensing, imaging and monoclonality assurance. Importantly, Cyto-Mine® is easy to use and incorporate into existing biopharmaceutical workflows to streamline labour-intensive processes and reduce time-to-market. Multiple users can be trained in a single day to run our easy-to-use software.
Following the success of Cyto-Mine®, we have launched ESI-Mine™. This ultra-high-throughput mass spectrometry screening method facilitates more efficient screening and analysis in bioproduction and synthetic biology processes. Also, we have recently developed the first version of an automated picodroplet-based platform to perform parallel sample mixing (Pico-Stream™) and library screening (Pico-Select™) for applications in cell engineering including cell therapy generation and genome editing
The list below summarizes Sphere Fluidics current product lines which are continually expanding to meet new industry applications.
Today, we are a leading provider of single-cell analysis instruments thanks to the hard work and dedication of our team and the continuous support of our customers and suppliers. We are also delighted to see the growing impact of this technology across the biopharmaceutical discovery and development, single-cell engineering, and synthetic biology sectors. Here are a few interview highlights from 2020.
An interview with Dr Jon Dempsey on how companies can improve product quality and yields, as well as shorten overall cell line development timelines.
An interview with Professor Chris Abell FRS FMedSci, on developing Cyto-Mine® and novel applications of droplet-based microfluidic technology.
An interview with Professor Wilhelm Huck on single cell analysis in diagnostics and using droplet-based microfluidics to detect and isolate circulating tumor cells.