CELLINK’s cytena GmbH division has launched the UP.SIGHT system, equipped with single-cell dispensing technology and rapid imaging system. The product is intended permit nozzle imaging and 3D full well imaging, and offer double assurance of clonality courtesy of two independent optical apparatuses.
Outsourcing-Pharma (OSP) spoke with Paul Berning (PB), CELLINK’s head of global sales, about the challenges researchers face in cell-line development, and the benefits of using an all-in-one solution.
OSP: Could you please share the ‘elevator presentation’ description of cytena GmbH—who you are, what you do, key capabilities, and what makes you stand out from the competition?
PB: cytena is a life-science company focusing on single-cell technologies and a part of the CELLINK Group. cytena was founded in 2014 within the Institute for Microsystems Technology (IMTEK) at the University of Freiburg and primarily sells high-precision solutions for handling biological cells.
The cytena team has developed a patented single-cell printer™ technology, which enables users to isolate and dispense single cells in a documented, gentle and sterile process. The single-cell printers have been manufactured in Germany since 2015 and are marketed worldwide.
In 2021, the UP.SIGHT was added to the company’s product portfolio, combining the single-cell dispensing technology with an imager for double assurance of clonality, ensuring a probability of clonality of >99.99% . Most top ten pharmaceutical companies use cytena’s single-cell dispensing devices to produce clonal cell lines for manufacturing antibodies.
OSP: Could you please share the idea behind (and the benefits of) combining single-cell dispensing technology and all-in-one imager?
PB: Eight out of 10 of the best-selling drugs worldwide are developed using biologics. In this development process, a single cell is required and the drug developer has to prove to the FDA that the development was done with a single cell to ensure a clonal cell line.
Usually, images taken by a plate imager from the bottom of the well plates are used for the documentation to prove a clonal workflow. For this method, the cell has to be centrifuged on the bottom of the well, which costs time and harms the cell.
Cells tend to be at the edge of the wells where reflections can cause difficulties in detecting the cell, which results in ghost cells – undetected cells. Therefore, just using bottom images has a lot of disadvantages and insecurities, and we do see that our customers don’t trust in the typical bottom images anymore.
Our single-cell dispensing process provides the image-based documentation that a single cell has been dispensed into a well plate. An additional optical aperture takes images throughout the whole well directly after the single cell has been dispensed to provide an additional image-based assurance that there is only one cell in the well. The combination of these two methods provides a probability of clonality of >99.99% and is much faster and more gentle to the cells then imaging from the well bottom.
OSP: What applications is this technology best suited for?
PB: This technology is best suited mainly for cell line development, but our single-cell dispensing technology is also used for single-cell omics as well as for cell and gene therapy.
OSP: Can you share which therapeutic areas the UP.SIGHT technology might be best suited for?
PB: There is no special therapeutic area. Cell line development is done for developing biologics. Some areas with a focus on treatment using monoclonal antibodies are autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. Recently, Regeneron got some attention as they leveraged monoclonal antibodies to develop a drug for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. A big field where cell line development is coming into play is personalized medicine.