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LUCERO - Smart Optofluidic Micromanipulation of Biological Samples

Project description

Manipulation and analysis of single cells steps into the age of automation

Cells are the building blocks of tissues that make up organs, organ systems and whole organisms. Understanding and manipulating them is critical to a myriad of applications including clinical research, drug development and forensics. The diameter of individual eukaryotic cells ranges between 1 and 100 micrometres (microns). Since light microscopes can only resolve objects down to about 500 microns, you need a high-tech electron microscope to even see them. Clearly, handling individual cells is even harder. Single-cell collection and analysis is expensive and challenging, necessitating not only the ability to 'pinch' them but also to keep them alive and well throughout numerous procedures. Most methods are still highly labour-intensive. The EU-funded LUCERO project is developing a solution to overcome all these difficulties with contactless optical tweezers, microfluidics and automation – all compatible with microscopes already in use.


The goal of Lucero is to create autonomous micromanipulation solutions for biological applications integrating optical manipulation, microfluidics, and machine intelligence. Single-cell analysis is critical in many biomedical applications, such as clinical trials, in-vitro fertilization, forensic analysis, and single-cell omics. In fact, it is an ideal moment to enter the single-cell analysis market, because this market is valued at $1.4 billion globally and expected to keep on growing with a compound annual rate higher than 17%. While some techniques are already commercially available, single-cell approaches still have several limitations. Mechanical tools (e.g. motorised micropipettes and microneedles, centrifugation) are invasive and prone to damage the cells. Labeled-sorting methods (e.g. flow-cytometry) can affect cell viability for subsequent protocols. Non-invasive sorting procedures based on microfluidics require high amounts of cells and numerous repetitions to obtain a significant fraction of target cells. Furthermore, in all cases these methods require expert handling and are labor intensive. With Lucero, we propose a solution that overcomes these problems based on a smart optofluidic platform: contactless thanks to the use of optical tweezers, capable of controlling the local cellular environment thanks to the use of microfluidics, and capable of autonomous and accurate operation thanks to machine intelligence. Lucero will be compatible with standard microscopes already available in biomedical laboratories, permit to completely automatize single-cell protocols, and therefore drastically lower the cost of biomedical research. Lucero already counts with an outstanding core team of scientists and experienced business people, and it will provide ~20 jobs to university-educated individuals in the EU within the next 5 years. Lucero has already received initial funding and support from two different organizations that support and believe in Lucero's venture.


Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
405 30 Goeteborg

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Södra Sverige Västsverige Västra Götalands län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (1)