Thursday February 25th 2021



Sarcura GmbH, an Austrian early-stage technology startup, announced that it has entered a collaboration with imec, a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies to develop a silicon chip-based prototype of a cytometer for automated cell separation bringing gene and cell therapy to the next level.

Transformative cell therapies, harnessing a patient’s own living immune cells to attack cancer, became a powerful new treatment to cure patients. But despite its unique potential, cell therapy manufacturing remains a challenge and bottleneck for the industry. In particular, the patient-specific nature of the therapies and the variations caused by the high diversity in the patient’s cells conflict with traditional and established generic biomanufacturing concepts at high volume.

Sarcura is developing an automated cell therapy manufacturing solution based on microfluidic systems to allow real-time quality and process control on cellular level. A special focus area of the collaboration with imec is the development of an integrated, silicon photonics cytometer for automated cell separation.

“Due to the high variability of the patient’s individual cells, that are used as starting material for cell therapy, we see a huge need for novel real-time and inline process and quality control technologies. Controlling, as well as manipulating individual cells at manufacturing scale will open new opportunities for industrial cell processing,” says Daniela Buchmayr, CEO at Sarcura. “With imec we found a leading expert in silicon technologies and nanoelectronics, as well as a trusted partner sharing the same vision of cross industry innovation to tackle the manufacturing challenges in cell and gene therapy.”

Liesbet Lagae, life sciences R&D director and fellow at imec: "We are leveraging our leadership in chip technology to tackle unsolved challenges in life-science instrumentation. The use of silicon technology allows extreme miniaturisation, as well as microfluidic parallelisation and scalable photonic integration of optical cell measurements.  We hence are able to build compact, yet high-throughput modules that can inspect every single cell and are scalable towards billions of cells. Our collaboration will pave the way to making highly potent cell and gene therapies affordable and accessible. To connect to the full ecosystem, imec is already partnering with cell therapy companies.”