18 Nov 2010   |   News

Miniature droplet technology receives Royal Society funding


The UK’s Royal Society Enterprise Fund has led an investment syndicate backing Cambridge-based company, Sphere Fluidics, a Cambridge University spin-out that is working on miniature droplet technology which will allow for the rapid identification, analysis and separation of single cells and molecules.

Sphere Fluidics’ picodroplet technology enables researchers to carry out large numbers of simultaneous reactions contained within small aqueous droplets a fraction of a millimetre in size. When the droplets are merged with others containing, for example, a specific chemical reagent, they effectively act as miniature reaction chambers that can be exposed to a unique set of experimental conditions.

The picodroplet technology was developed by Chris Abell and Wilhelm Huck of the Department of Chemistry. The technology has potential uses across a wide variety of fields, including analysis and isolation of cell types, biomarker discovery in small volumes, and molecular labelling and separation using proprietary catalysts and conditions.

The platform is an alternative to existing techniques, offering greater control and automation, and improved efficiency.

The company was spun out from the University of Cambridge in March 2010, with initial funding from the University’s Discovery Fund. Frank Craig, CEO of Sphere Fluidics, said, “This investment, along with the recent signing of research collaboration with a major pharmaceutical firm, is an excellent validation of the potential of Sphere and its unique discovery technology platform.”

Peter Williams, Treasurer and Vice-President of The Royal Society, said, “Sphere Fluidics has enormous commercial potential across a range of markets and we look forward to supporting the company in its development.”

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