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Female-led biotech spinoff sorting cancer & stem cells bags €2.3M funding

LiveDrop Team
Image credits: LiveDrop

LiveDrop, the spinout emerging from the University of Liege’s Microfluidics lab which has developed high-tech instruments to detect and select living cells with much promise has just recently received initial funding of €2.3M. 

The startup’s next-gen patented ModaFlow is the world’s first all-integrated instrument based on droplet microfluidics tech with the ability to detect and select biological cells such as therapeutic antibody-producing cells like monoclonal antibodies, cancer cells, rare immune cells, stem cells and fragile cells that are difficult to manipulate with classical techniques such as flow cytometers  (FACS: “Fluorescence-activated cell sorter”) and multiwell plates.

The funds raised by LiveDrop amount to  €2.3M, of which €1.4 M  was exclusively from the private fund Innovation Fund alongside the institutional funds W.IN.G., Noshaq the Liège company, Trasis and the Martial family. The remainder consisted of subsidies and loans.

Pushing for the revolution in droplet microfluidics

LiveDrop’s first developed instrument is called the ModaFlow. It’s based on droplet microfluidics technology, which consists of the production of tiny water droplets (sub nanoliter volume) in oil. These droplets are then conveyed in the microscopic channels of a  microfluidic chip.

Biological cells of interest are then encapsulated in these droplets, manipulated, detected and selected, at high speed. More than a million cells can be encapsulated per day. Droplet microfluidics technology offers the opportunity to perform single-cell analysis at a very high throughput, which is necessary to allow researchers to analyse millions or trillions of cells from biological samples such as tumours, blood samples and immune cells.

“Microfluidic technologies are booming in the life sciences sector. It is even referred to as ‘the microfluidic revolution’. Everyone is convinced of the high potential of these technologies. This fundraising demonstrates the enthusiasm and confidence of stakeholders who believe in our vision and our project.  Thanks to this fundraising, we have already started to recruit a strong team to accelerate the new developments of the ModaFlow instrument and to respond to our customers’ and collaborators’ requests,” remarked LiveDrop’s CEO Dr Stéphanie van Loo.

10+ years in the making

Founded just this year by Stéphanie van Loo & Geoffrey Holsbeek, The LiveDrop project is based on nearly 10 years of research conducted by Stéphanie van Loo and Professor Tristan Gilet at  ULiège’s Microfluidics Lab. During her thesis, Stéphanie implemented LiveDrop’s droplet microfluidics technology “from scratch”. She then transformed the test bench she had developed for her research into an integrated instrument named ModaFlow, allowing biotech actors to have instant access to this technology.

Her partner & LiveDrop’s CBO, Geoffrey boasts 15 years of experience in Biotechnology, project management and entrepreneurship, previously founding and leading AmplyCell as its CEO.  LiveDrop has been incubated at WSL since 2021 with ten scientific collaborators and the first customers already using the ModaFlow. The company’s goal is to commercialize this instrument so that every laboratory can take advantage of the power of droplet microfluidics for its single-cell and cell sorting applications.

LiveDrop’s customers include R&D departments of (bio)pharmaceutical companies, research centres, biotechnology companies and academic laboratories active in oncology, cell biology, immunotherapy and cell therapy, regenerative medicine and stem cells.

“We are delighted to participate in the launch of LiveDrop with ModaFlow, a very innovative microfluidics tool. Stéphanie, her team and the first users of the device have convinced us to actively support this project. We are indeed very enthusiastic about its potential, both at the diagnostic and therapeutic levels. This new adventure once again underlines Liège’s know-how in life sciences and is in line with our own mission to contribute to the improvement of patient care,” commented Gauthier Philippart, the CEO of Trasis.

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