Sorting 20 million cells per minute, imec’s on-chip cytometry and cell sorting technology is a key component of next-gen diagnostics, therapeutics and bioprocessing.
Flow cytometry is a versatile technology for identification and separation of cell species, and even individual cells, from fluid samples such as blood. Especially when combined with a cell sorting module for further downstream analysis, it’s a powerful tool for applications such as diagnostics and bioprocess monitoring and control.
Conventional cytometric technologies – often based on glass or plastic substrates and frequently found as benchtop systems in research labs – fail to meet the standards for clinical practice.
In order to make life-saving treatments such as CAR T cell therapies widely available and affordable, we need cytometry and cell sorting solutions that are closed and compact, easy to use, high-throughput, and low-cost.
Chip technology, in particular silicon microfluidics, is excellently suited to tackle these challenges. Because of its compactness and scalability, it allows a substantial parallelization of the channels – increasing the throughput without making concessions on sorting precision, or viability of the cells.
In addition, on-chip flow cytometry allows the development of integrated solutions that combine microfluidics, photonics, MEMS, imaging, computation, ... in one closed and compact system. Such a system can be used in decentralized settings and is explicitly recommended by the FDA and other guidelines to improve therapies administered to patients.
Imec developed a flow cytometry and cell sorter concept that can select cells based on multiple markers, and then further analyze them downstream. This is the operating principle:
Thanks to the parallelization in up to 100 of these channels, sorting speeds reach 20 million cells per minute, all with a disposable device of only a few cm².
A few key benefits of imec’s cytometry and cell sorter device:
The building blocks of imec’s flow cytometry and cell sorting solution have been internally validated for integration in systems for next-gen diagnostics and bioprocess monitoring and control, and are available for licensing.