TTP plc spin-out Cellular Highways Ltd to commercialise next-generation cell-sorting technology


02 April 2019

TTP plc spin-out Cellular Highways Ltd to commercialise next-generation cell-sorting technology

  • TTP plc invests £1.7m ($2.2m), to fast-track development of first commercial product, Highway 1™, bench-top cell-sorting instrument
  • Highway 1 addresses a major unmet need for improved cell-sorting technology, with applications including development of cell therapies, liquid biopsy diagnostics, and high-throughput drug discovery
  • Advanced cell-sorting technology is based on Vortex-Actuated Cell Sorting technology, developed to support translation of research to the clinic

Cambridge, UK, 02 April 2019: TTP plc (TTP), a leading independent technology and product development company, has announced today the formation of Cellular Highways Ltd. The new spin-out has been founded to commercialise TTP’s proprietary Vortex-Actuated Cell Sorting (VACS) technology, and fast-track development of a first commercial product, Highway 1™. TTP has invested £1.7m ($2.2m) in the spin-out, in addition to over £2m development funding to date. Highway 1 will be unveiled at CYTO, the 34th Congress of the International Society for Advancement of Cytometry, in Vancouver, 22-26 June 2019.

The VACS technology has the potential to enable new cell therapies, liquid biopsy diagnostics, and high-throughput drug discovery applications. It is the first cell sorting technology with the demonstrated core performance to translate research to the clinic, enabling high-throughput cell sorting that is sterile and free of cross-contamination, and scalable to therapeutically-relevant batches of cells. VACS provides an enclosed, sterile cell sorting chip, where cells can be typed according to molecular markers, and sorted into separate outputs. Importantly, the technology is multiplexable, enabling scaling up to large batches of cells (upwards of around a billion) at high speed, to support development of cell therapies and diagnostics.

A team at TTP, led by Dr Salman Samson Rogers, has been developing the VACS technology over the past two years. To exploit the potential of the VACS platform, TTP has launched Cellular Highways to develop a new generation of automated high-throughput cell sorting instruments for research, diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Dr Rogers has also been appointed CEO of Cellular Highways. Highway 1, Cellular Highways’ first commercial product, has been designed to provide “an aseptic cell sorter for every lab”. Input and output fluids are entirely contained in sterile sort microfluidic cartridges, which house the inertial sorter chip, to eliminate risks associated with biohazardous aerosols, and cross-contamination.

Cellular Highways will be based at TTP’s Melbourn Science Park headquarters.

Dr Salman Samson Rogers, CEO at Cellular Highways, commented: “Our mission is to make better cell sorting accessible to every laboratory, and to enable therapeutic and diagnostic cell sorting applications that are ill-served by incumbent products. Powered by VACS technology, our instruments will reduce the cost and complexity of cell sorting and will be easy to operate. We are interested in hearing from beta testers, research partners, new colleagues and anyone with an interest in better cell sorting.”

Matthew Carr, Head of Life Sciences at TTP and Chairman of Cellular Highways, said: “Investing in new technology and product development is at the heart of what we do at TTP. The launch of Cellular Highways is a great example of what happens when technically brilliant people come together, working across disciplines in a collaborative and creative environment. I want to thank the Cellular Highways team for all their hard work so far and I am looking forward to the launch of Highways 1.”



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About Cellular Highways Ltd

Cellular Highways, TTP plc’s most recent spin out, is developing a new generation of automated high-throughput cell sorting instruments for research, diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Powered by a new microfluidic cell sorter technology, our instruments will reduce the cost and complexity of cell sorting and achieve far higher throughput than existing platforms.


About TTP plc

TTP is an independent technology company where scientists and engineers collaborate to invent, design and develop new products and technologies. Working across a wide spectrum of industries including health, telecoms, industrials and consumer, TTP creates breakthrough solutions that bring strong commercial value to clients and the benefits of technology to all.



The latest from Cellular Highways – at fcUK

Come and meet us at flowcytometryUK in Edinburgh – we’re giving a talk on Wednesday 18th July 2018. As well as an overview of the technology, we will be showing off our latest results in the collaboration with GSK – demonstrating excellent results separating human PBMCs.

“Cell sorting with an inertial vortex: a new microfluidic technology for high-throughput research and clinical applications” 14:40, Wednesday 18th July 2018.


Meet us at ISCT 2018!

  • TTP will be looking for cell therapy partners and presenting a Cellular Highways poster at ISCT 2018 entitled “A faster GMP cell sorter enabled by a microfluidic inertial vortex.”

Abstract: A new technology for a high-throughput GMP sorter

Many new concepts in cell therapy are hard to manufacture because they require a purification step that is challenging to achieve with any current technology. For example, several T cell therapies must process more than a billion cells at high purity, based on a combination of several molecular markers, in aseptic conditions. For various reasons, these requirements are hard to satisfy with commercial MACS and FACS or related instruments.

To solve this problem, we have invented a new type of fluorescence-based microfluidic cell sorter, to achieve high-throughput therapeutic cell sorting in GMP conditions. The core technology is based on the creation of an inertial vortex in a microfluidic channel by a thermal vapor bubble actuator, and achieves cell processing rates of up to 50 kHz, peak sort rates of 12 kHz in a lab-on-chip device of 250 microns width.

We demonstrate the physical operation of the sorter and experimental results on cells, showing high-fidelity sorting and high viability. We also present our ongoing work to multiplex this sorter technology and create a GMP sorter instrument, to process batches of greater than 109 cells at high purity and yield, in an automated aseptic consumable, and apply the sorter to new cell therapies.