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University of Cambridge spin-out Sphere Fluidics Limited has won $7 million in investment for the development of Cyto-mine, a unique single cell analysis system.

Based on the research of Professors Chris Abell and Wilhelm Huck of the Department of Chemistry, Sphere Fluidics has developed a ground-breaking biochip systems that automatically process millions to billions of miniaturised tests in tiny picodroplets. Among other things, the technology allows tests on individual cells as well as whole “libraries” of cells.

Sphere Fluidics’ technology enables the study of the mechanism of cancer cell resistance to chemotherapy, the generation of new enzymes and identification of novel microbial strains. The company has established multiple commercial partnerships, and is funded by Cambridge Enterprise seed funds and the Royal Society Enterprise Fund, amongst others.

Dr. Frank F. Craig (CEO) said “Sphere Fluidics Limited has recently successfully developed an alpha-version of its single cell analysis and characterization system Cyto-Mine® for the biopharmaceutical discovery and development market. We have also convinced several leading biopharmaceutical companies to fund development of this system – indicating the global potential of the product. This new funding will used to develop the manufactured version of Cyto-Mine® and enable its commercial launch later this year. This system is transformational for the Biopharmaceutical market.”

The funding round was led by an Asian corporate investor but also included investment from existing angel investors and UK angel funds such as 24Haymarket, Park Walk Advisors and London Business Angels. “We were very pleased to have ongoing investor support and also extend our business activity and fund-raising success to Asia,” said Dr Frank F. Craig.

“This new instrument can accelerate and enable the discovery of diverse antibodies from primary cells and find high producer cell clones. It can perform millions of novel single cell assays per day, dramatically improve biopharmaceutical discovery, offers up to 100-fold improvements in monoclonality and enhances recovery of single cells compared to conventional techniques.” said Dr. Marian Rehak (R&D Director).

“The instrument provides a revolutionary change for this market, offering unique technical features for single cell analysis and benefits including significantly reduced capital, consumable and operational costs,” said Dr. Rob Marchmont (Commercial Director).

Dr. Frank F. Craig (CEO) said “the Commercialisation of Cyto-Mine® represents a successful step in our strategy to now sell high value systems. Our initial target market is biopharmaceuticals but later we will also extend sales into other growing global markets including: synthetic biology, single cell therapy engineering, microbial analysis (e.g. antibiotic-resistance screening and microbiome studies) and single cancer cell diagnostics. It is an exciting time for Sphere Fluidics, its investors and customers.”