Fluorescence-activated-cell-sorting (FACS) or flow cytometry enables clinicians and researchers to quantitatively characterize the physical (cell size, shape, granularity) and biochemical (DNA content, cell cycle distribution, cell surface markers, and viability) properties of cells. With the capability of high-throughput sorting to enrih biospecimens and extract rare cell types, a state-of-the-art flow cytometer makes it possible to conduct rare-event studies such as the identification or isolation of bacterial cells, stem cells, r tumor cells. However, current flow cytometers that detect multiple colors and sort cells are expensive (~$500K), complicated, hazardous, large and bulky. For these reasons, flow cytometers are often shared amongst labs, leading to conflicts in sample handling and scheduling. With a growing market expected to reach over $3 billion by 2015, flow cytometry can address a diverse array of biomedical challenges. However, there are no high performance flow cytometers with cell sorting capabilities that are affordable for any lab. Despite the increasing demand for affordable cell sorters, the flow cytometry industry faces fundamental limits in the current technology and its evolutionary path. The current system architectures are highly inefficient in accommodating and fully utilizing the increasing number of available fluorescent colors, sensitivity, ease of use, and sorting capabilities. We propose an accessible, affordable, and high performance flow cytometry technology that will allow any scientist to perform cell analysis and sorting in their own laboratory. In this Lab-to-Market Phase II program, we propose to dramatically improve our flow cytometric cell sorting platform, the WOLF Cell Sorter, including extending the dynamic range of the fluorescent detection, implementing real time cell sorting verification, expanding chip volume manufacturing, and validating the system with early adopters such as induced pluripotent stem cell researchers excited by the unique features of our system. These technology and business goals will have a direct impact on basic research and clinical applications in human health and disease.
The advances proposed here will allow NanoCellect to achieve its mission: to make cell sorting flow cytometry an everyday lab tool by making our device portable, affordable and easy to use. Existing cell sorters are prohibitively expensive, produce cell damaging shear stress that affect downstream applications, create bio hazardous aerosols, and require highly trained technicians. For emerging markets, like stem cell research, there is a strong need to develop and make available an affordable, user-friendly system that is also amenable for highly sensitive cell samples.