Our technology has had a considerable impact, supporting over £5M of research to date. We take theoretical and experimental approaches to platform technology development with a distinct focus on biochemical and clinical applications.
SINGLE CELL PROTEOMICS
Many human cancers, particularly breast cancer, are able to metastasize, a process where, as a tumour develops, cancerous cells can migrate from the primary tumour and seed new tumours. Metastasis is responsible for >95% of cancer deaths and the life expectancy of patients with metastatic breast cancer is measured in months, and at most 1-2 years. Understanding this crucial stage of the disease is of great scientific interest and tremendous clinical importance.
We use our microfluidic single cell analysis platform to quantitatively measure key protein targets with in single cells. It is a highly sensitive platform capable of detecting low copy number proteins with single molecule resolution and capable of thresholds less than 100 proteins and a dynamic range of over 6 orders of magnitude; making it suitable for studying high as well as low abundance proteins. In proof-of-concept studies, the platform was able to perform a chemotherapeutic drug screen with only 248 breast cancer cells, making it an ideal strategy to quantitatively phenotype rare cancer cells from patient samples. Single cell approaches will help resolve the heterogeneity in breast cancer in order to provide clinically relevant insights into resistance and metastasis.
Analysing and quantifying the chemical composition of complex mixtures is crucial to the success of a wide range of industries including pharmaceuticals, agriculture, food production and healthcare. One of the best techniques available to achieve this is high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). HPLC’s broad applicability coupled with high precision and reproducibility has made it a gold standard technique and the workhorse of analytical chemistry. However, HPLC has remained complex, large and expensive, and its use is restricted to well-equipped laboratories. These factors are major bottlenecks in the application of HPLC to time-critical and field-based analysis. Using our expertise in microfluidics and miniaturisation, we have developed a fully-integrated portable HPLC device which enables users to get gold-standard laboratory data for accurate and reproducible results at the point-of-sampling.
anywhereHPLC Ltd (www.anywhereHPLC.co.uk) is a spin-out company of Imperial College London, which has been formed to commercialise miniaturised, portable HPLC technology developed within the University for a variety of applications in the healthcare, food, pharmaceutical and environmental industries.
Synthetic biology is one of the most promising areas of modern science. In top-down synthetic biology real cells are reverse engineered at the genetic level to perform new functions but this approach is often hampered by the host organism metabolism. Bottom-up synthetic biology takes on a very different approach, building up artificial cells from first principles, bringing together different types of biological machinery, from proteins through to lipids and DNA, in user defined combinations. This approach is extremely versatile but is restricted by our ability to measure the molecular make-up of an artificial cell once it has been made.
We are developing microfluidic technologies that are able to construct and characterise the performance of individual artificial cells including measurement of their constituent parts with single molecule precision. Such technology has the potential to transform diagnostics, chemical synthesis, drug delivery and is anticipated to be invaluable in hybrid cell-based therapies for future healthcare and disease.
We are grateful to the following organisations for funding research in our group. If you are interested in supporting us please get in touch.
We are open to new and exciting applications of our technology. Please get in touch if you’re interested in collaborating.