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Barr Ellison Solicitors – commercial property
ARM Innovation Hub
27 November, 2017 - 13:45 By Kate Sweeney

Sphere Fluidics on a Swiss roll with €1.6m for genome engineering project

Sphere Fluidics CEO Frank Craig

Sphere Fluidics in Cambridge and Swiss company Geneva Biotech have secured a €1.6 million Eurostars genome editing grant for an engineering project that will support precise docking of very large DNA cargoes in genomes.

Sphere provides single cell analysis systems underpinned by its patented picodroplet technology while Geneva Biotech is an EMBL spin-out developing world-class viral and non-viral DNA delivery system.

The Eurostars funding programme supports international collaborations between R & D-performing small and medium enterprises to develop innovative products, processes and services. 

The collaboration aims to adapt the use of Sphere Fluidics’ Cyto-Mine Single Cell Analysis System to generate an automated, benchtop device for precise docking of very large DNA cargoes in genome-edited cell lines. 

State-of-the-art gene editing technologies are effective at creating small local gene modification, but are severely limited by a lack of tools to dock complex multigene circuits into defined genomic sites. 

The proposed project will substantially increase researchers’ capability to edit the genome. This would significantly impact multiple sectors including gene therapy, cancer immunotherapy, stem cell reprogramming, and drug discovery.

Cyto-Mine is the first integrated device to be able to automatically perform the techniques that are routinely used in the biopharmaceutical discovery and development workflow, including single cell analysis, sorting, imaging and dispensing into individual wells of microtitre plates. 

The high-throughput instrument uses picodroplet technology and microfluidics to enable processing of up to 10 million heterogeneous mammalian cells in less than half a day. Each cell is encapsulated in a picodroplet containing growth media, which acts as a bioreactor to compartmentalise the cell and let it grow; eventually trapping secreted molecules such as antibodies. The unique workflow enables selective screening of single cells to find rare lead candidates.

Dr Frank Craig, CEO and director at Sphere Fluidics said: “Sphere Fluidics is adapting the use of its Cyto-Mine system for the genome editing field. 

“The Eurostars programme will enable us to continue to expand its use in this rapidly growing market by working together with Geneva Biotech to develop a precise method of delivering large DNA cargoes in genomes.”

Last week, Sphere Fluidics announced it was doubling its UK laboratory and office space at Babraham Research Campus, Cambridge to enable company expansion.


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