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Microfluidics


Practical benefits for commercial users and scientists In addition to broadening scientific horizons and revealing novel research applications,


this


cutting-edge technology can undoubtedly simplify and improve the working lives of many people within the biopharmaceutical and molecular biolo- gy industries. Automated and fully-integrated microfluidic systems remove much of the complex- ity associated with multi-process analysis. User- friendly interfaces have been designed and adapted with the specific needs of commercial scientists in mind, resulting in a streamlined solution and removing laborious processes that require multiple pieces of equipment (each with limited capabilities) and complicated protocols. Users are essentially able to initiate analyses at


the touch of button and turn their attention to other important areas of research with the reassur- ance that output quality will be maintained, while the length of time required to complete analysis is substantially reduced. This broadens the possibili- ties for scientists working in this area and releases capacity so that they are empowered to explore new and interesting areas of research, without the frustrations or limitations associated with tradi- tional techniques. Companies are also able to make more effective and strategic use of their scientist’s expertise, as their time is no longer dominated by mundane tasks and processes. Significant environ- mental savings can also be made through reduction in the use of plastics.


Making time, realising savings and benefiting patients Microfluidic innovations provide many practical solutions; precious time, money and resources can be saved through the application of these systems. The potential benefits of picodroplet microfluidic platforms are multi-dimensional. As application of these systems expands, advantages will extend to those working across the commercial pharmaceuti- cal and biotechnology sectors, scientific/academic researchers, healthcare providers and patients. Although the possibilities for this technology


are vast from a scientific and commercial perspec- tive, the ultimate goal remains the identification and acceleration of innovative treatments and diagnostic tools with the potential to save or improve the lives of those with debilitating dis- ease. New and interesting disease biomarkers or biotherapeutic targets can be identified in a frac- tion of the time, compared with conventional plat- forms, advancing scientific research and improv- ing our ever-evolving knowledge of the molecular


Drug Discovery World Summer 2018 65


signalling pathways underpinning disease. These insights will elevate drug discovery and develop- ment well beyond current limitations, removing the widespread application of one-size-fits all ther- apeutics; bringing an exciting and ground-break- ing new generation of potent precision medicines and accurate diagnostics with the potential to transform disease management.


DDW


Dr Frank F. Craig MBA has 20 years of interna- tional, general management experience gained from GlaxoSmithKline, Amersham Biosciences and several start-up firms. Dr Craig co-founded Aurora Biosciences (San Diego, USA), Smart Holograms (Cambridge, UK) and Sphere Fluidics (Cambridge, UK). He is now CEO and Director of Sphere Fluidics Limited (Cambridge, UK) and President of Sphere Fluidics Incorporated (New Jersey, USA). He has a PhD in Cell Biology and Microbiology from Glasgow University and an MBA from Warwick Business School.


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