In the second call of Valorisation Programme of NanoNextNL (December 2015) the following business case was awarded:
Automated System for High-Throughput Single Cell Breeding
The current sales of biotherapeutics is close to US$ 125 billion. Mammalian cells have been used for a long time in the production of biopharmaceuticals. In the current production processes of novel biopharmaceuticals cell handling is executed at the colony level (single-colony-based-breeding). However, these colonies are highly heterogeneous in nature due to the gene amplification process and random gene integration. As a result, production rates amongst different cells in a colony varies greatly. This implies that large numbers of clones have to be screened to identify the rare stable high producer cell clones. Consequently, the current cell line development processes typically require 6-12 months and are extremely time, labour and capital intensive. High-producing cell lines could be established much more effectively by sorting single cells, as opposed to colonies, early in the production process.
MEMS array technology allows for the interrogation of large numbers of single cells and would be extremely efficient in high-throughput screening of novel biologics. However, currently the loading of these arrays is inefficient and the retrieval of single cells from these arrays is problematic. The current business case describes the development of an instrument which allows efficient loading and retrieval of single cells from MEMS micro-arrays containing 10.000-100.000 cells. Relatively compared to existing systems the FluidFM_Array Cell Sorter will enable pharmaceutical companies to screen more cells in less time at reduced cost, manpower and consumables