Since 1985, the Ministry of Economics recognizes small and medium-sized enterprises for their innovative products, processes and services with the Dr. Rudolf Eberle Prize 2017. The Ministry of Economics awarded 50,000€ in prize money in dedication to the former Minister of Economics, Dr. Rudolf Eberle (1926-1984). cytena GmbH, founded in 2014 as a spin-off from Hahn-Schickard and the University of Freiburg, received this honor for its single-cell printing technology.
The manipulation, sorting and analysis of single biological cells has been rapidly gaining attention in the life-science sector over the last couple of years. cytena’s single-cell printer is a laboratory instrument for handling and sorting living single cells that serves as an innovative tool in this field. Researchers in pharmaceutical industry and basic research appreciate the novel technology for clonal cell line development as well as for single-cell analysis. Compared to alternative technologies, the single-cell printer has many unique advantages, but most importantly, it is fast and gentle even to the most sensitive cell types. The core of the instrument, the printing cartridge, is a single-use disposable to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination, while enabling the encapsulation of single cells in free flying tiny liquid droplets of similar size as produced by inkjet printers. The low-dead-volume of the cartridge allows for use of small liquid volumes and rare cell samples. During operation, the system acquires and stores microscope images of each printed cell, for post-analysis. In addition, this data provides assurance that exactly one single cell is delivered to the target. This assurance of clonality is of major importance for clinical approval procedures in the pharmaceutical industry.