23 October is Molecule Day and although it is mostly celebrated by chemists, molecular research is important for everyone. The Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA) supports science and technology innovations that seek solutions for humanity with the precision of molecules.

One of the LBSA’s partners in biotechnology projects is company Droplet Genomics, which implemented the project ‘Development of a miniaturised genetic coding system for fluorescent cells’ in 2018–2020. It has received EU funding of more than EUR 490,000 under the ‘Intellect. Joint science-business projects’ (Intelektas. Bendri mokslo–verslo projektai) measure.

‘In 2018, a methodology for collecting high-resolution data from biological samples became available on the market, which opened up prospects for people to learn more about those samples. One of the most interesting applications is the diagnostics of biological assays and our goal was to isolate the necessary cells using a basic processed sample approach. Fluorescence is the way to pick out cells of interest. We wanted to develop a way to do this in one step without the need for expensive equipment,’ says Karolis Leonavičius, the company’s technology director.

The project has led to the development of a device for the efficient preparation of individual cell samples. The system is based on staining the sample cells with fluorescent labels followed by automated genetic coding of the target cells. In addition to more efficient analysis of individual cells, the device developed in the project also allows for the sorting of individual cells according to selected phenotypic markers, which significantly expands the applications of the technology (e.g. sorting of cells according to their receptors or antigens). The project was carried out with partner UAB Integrated Optics.

Several companies are already interested in the device and production challenges are being addressed.

‘Sustainability of innovation is one of the most important challenges of EU investments, which we pay a lot of attention to, as we believe that it will help Lithuanian business to grow and to reveal local talents,’ said Aurimas Želvys, Head of the LBSA.

Karolis Leonavičius, representative of Droplet Genomics, said that the cooperation with the LBSA was one of the essential aids that allowed the creation of the desired device, to develop the company’s activities and identity.

Molecule Day is celebrated on 23 October (10/23) from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., as it is spelled like Avogadro’s number, which is equal to 6.022 × 1023. Avogadro’s number is the number of molecules that make up one mole.

When asked whether the Droplet Genomics team would celebrate Molecule Day, Leonavičius smiled and said that they do not plan to celebrate it, but it is 100% related to their activities.

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