• Functional Sorting brings new Device into Spotlight

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Functional Sorting brings new Device into Spotlight

Aug 20 2021

Scientists at the University of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute have found a way of profiling and sorting hundreds of cells by their cellular response to a stimulus, while also being able to measure the strength of the response.

They have developed a Functional Phenotype Flow Cytometer (FPFC) that can move individual cells between “virtually” separate microfluidic channels, where exposure to a biological reagent solution makes them glow more brightly, the stronger the response.

Funded by the BBSRC, with support from the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Swiss National Science Foundation, this project has potential to improve personalised medicine by detecting whether a specific drug is likely to work for a patient before it is administered.

Project lead Dr Catalin Chimerel, said: “Our device allows cells to be sorted into sub-groups in a far more refined way than ever before. We can see not only their function, but how effective it is. We’re excited to see how this research will develop, with a longer term aim of translation into commercial use. On a basic level, this has the potential to help us make huge advance into understanding our own cellular make-up.

“An obvious application is in testing drug response – by exposing the patient’s cells to a drug in our device, we will get a very good indication of whether it will prove effective, meaning we have a much better chance of choosing the right drug first time, improving care and reducing unnecessary side-effects.”

The University of Exeter has filed a patent application on the technology and is seeking a commercial partner to further co‑develop or in‑licence the technology and translate the positive proof of concept findings towards commercialisation.

The paper is entitled ‘Functional Phenotype Flow Cytometry: On Chip Sorting of Individual Cells According to Responses to Stimuli’,published in Advanced Biology.

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