Celebrating CytoCypher’s 5 Year Anniversary!
Characterizing excitation-contraction coupling in isolated cardiac myocytes has been essential to our understanding of heart function. Historically these studies were constrained by lower throughput data collection and limited sample sizes. Because isolated myocytes display a high degree of functional variability, acquiring data from more myocytes was needed for greater accuracy and statistical confidence. Recognizing this, IonOptix CSO Michiel Helmes created a spin-off company, CytoCypher BV, to develop a novel system capable of improving the throughput of both data acquisition and analysis without sacrificing data fidelity or precision.
Beginning in September of 2015, CytoCypher embarked on a journey with its partners at IonOptix and Optics11 to manufacture a high-speed and higher throughput microscopy system. Unlike typical motorized microscopes that rely on motorized stages to bring the specimen to a static optical system, CytoCypher’s microscope would move the objective to the specimen. This key innovation meant that myocytes would not be displaced as the system moved from one field to another. Consequently, CytoCypher’s microscope movement speed would not be constrained, and the fully programmable objective could be driven from one field to the next in less that 100 milliseconds. Within just a year and a half, a fully enclosed, fast x-y-z positioning, programmable scanning microscope with mark-and-find functionality and autofocus was developed. After thoroughly testing the prototype, the first MultiCell system was sold and installed in summer 2017.
Since the development of the MultiCell microscope, CytoCypher turned its attention to another critical issue facing researchers: data analysis. While collecting data from thousands of myocytes per day sounds impressive, it was obvious that the rate-limiting step would soon become analysis. Knowing this, CytoCypher’s programmers took on the task of reimaging how calcium and contractility data was analyzed, and CytoSolver was born. CytoSolver pushes IonWizard’s gold standard analysis suite further with automated data analysis and batch loading, so multiple files and hundreds of myocytes can be analyzed in minutes with only a few simple mouse clicks.
Recognizing the value of its partnership and wanting to create even stronger ties, CytoCypher merged with IonOptix at the end of 2018. Following the successful completion of prototyping, testing, and developing a new high-throughput cardiac myocyte acquisition system, the newly merged company was awarded Phase II NIH SBIR funding to further improve the MultiCell System. The goal of the SBIR grant is to assess function in at least 10,000 cardiac myocytes per day, representing roughly a 1,000-fold increase in cell throughput over the original IonOptix system.
Not content with its successes, CytoCypher continues to innovate and is developing a comprehensive suite of tools that facilitates every aspect of excitation-contraction investigations, from experiment design to data collection, data analysis, and post-analysis data aggregation and presentation. CytoCypher continues to look at ways to improve not only the throughput of data collection but also the usability and capability of their products. Stay tuned for another five years of cutting-edge development!