Cell4D describes itself as the world’s first ‘cell mechanomics’ company. Like genomics or proteomics, cell mechanomics is a type of biomarker. Based on the mechano-fingerprints of single cells, it can screen and sort live cells in a label-free, real-time, high-throughput and cost-effective manner, to empower drug discoveries, cell therapies and precision cancer medicine. Led by scientist and technopreneur Zhe Lin, Cell4D is among the cohort of innovative companies being mentored by CC as part of MedTech Innovator Asia Pacific. 

Every cell has unique mechanical properties and these mechanical ‘fingerprints’ allow the identification of cancer cells, the monitoring of immune activation and the characterisation of stem cell differentiation. Compared to genomics or proteomics techniques, cell mechanomics is label-free and can be non-destructive allowing time-based measurements. Cell4D is the first mechano-based. high-resolution single-cell screening system that can monitor live cells in real time. The combination of single-cell screening with time resolution could enable multiple applications in life science.  

Each chip costs less than $10 but can measure up to a million cells in a single experiment. utilising AI, Cell4D can capture human cell mechanomics data to empower big data applications for every disease. It could help reduce the need for animal studies, accelerate drug discovery and help fight cancer.  

Rising to the challenge of heterogeneity 

Heterogeneity broadly exists in diseases like cancers, which increases the difficulties in drug discovery, prevents the development of broad and efficient drugs and causes drug resistance. The reaction of cancer cells to a drug is dynamic, but the current genomics or proteomics tools can only measure a single time point and are therefore not able to decipher cell dynamics. 

With its single-cell resolution and real-time monitoring capacities, Cell4D deciphers the heterogeneity of cancer and provides AI-powered digital solutions for cancer drug screening and precision medicine. 

What will the benefits be? 

As well as developing a relationship with Cambridge Consultants, Cell4D is collaborating with top universities and leading multinationals. As a platform technology, Cell4D has the potential to drive various biotech innovations, such as cancer early diagnosis, precision medicine, cell therapies and drug discoveries.  

Working with a leading industry partner, Cell4D is applying its technology in cancer precision medicine. Firstly, it can screen single cells within cancer for diagnosis and classification. It is twofold more sensitive than conventional tools and offers more than 90% cost and time savings. It can also identify drug-resistant or immune-escape cells within minutes, versus the three to six months of current technology. 

The accuracy has also been verified by gold standards and suggests a future of more personalized medicine for patients. And as the first label-free, high-throughput system capable of detecting immune cell activation or stem cell differentiation in real-time, Cell4D says it has proven its value in cell therapies like CAR-T or stem cell therapies.  

What’s next? 

Cell4D is confident that cell mechanomics will drive multiple life science innovations. Through win-win collaborations with the likes of CC, multinationals and start-ups, the company envisions an ecosystem that will maximise social impact, fight diseases like cancer and explore the blue ocean of discovery.  

Author
Symon Cotton
Associate Director

Dr Symon Cotton heads-up the life science business at Cambridge Consultants and has a background in Physics and Computer Science, gaining a PhD in computational medical physics at Birmingham University, UK. He has founded a number of start-up companies bringing novel medical diagnostics to market and now works with numerous companies to develop innovative medical devices.