Planet Innovation teams up with US biotech for LeviCell

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Melbourne-based health tech innovation and commercialisation company Planet Innovation has partnered with US-based Levitas Bio to launch the world’s first label-free cell separation platform, the LeviCell.

The benchtop device uses magnetic levitation technology developed at Stanford University to sort cell populations, without modifying the cells with labels such as beads, dyes, or antibodies.

Planet Innovation (PI) took an early access prototype and quickly created a production-ready instrument that is smaller in size and it says has superior usability.

The LeviCell allows researchers to access all high-value primary samples, regardless of starting cell number, viability or sensitivity to processing. It is also faster and simpler than traditional sample preparation and cell sorting platforms - taking minutes rather than hours.

According to Martin Pieprzyk, CEO of Levitas Bio, “For many researchers, this means they can now quickly and easily sort fully viable cell populations for downstream cell culture and analysis without the need for expensive and complicated equipment. The LeviCell sorts cells in under 10 minutes with no calibration, cleaning or staining.”

The LeviCell’s primary application is sample preparation. Yet it can also be used to test the response of cells to drugs in real-time and to aid diagnosis in oncology.

Levitas technology has been validated for sorting fully viable live populations from sample types that are traditionally very difficult to work with, such as tumour biopsies and needle aspirates, as well as very sensitive cell types such as pancreatic cells and macrophages. 

PI is now manufacturing and shipping LeviCell units from its Melbourne manufacturing facility and supporting Levitas Bio to establish an operation in Australian.

Mr Pieprzyk said, “I’ve worked with quite a few development and manufacturing partners in the past, and PI has been the best to work with by far. They’ve been extremely flexible and adaptable, and were able to help us get our product on the market faster than we had imagined. We couldn’t have asked for a better partner.”

Nathan Ray, program manager at PI, said, “As an engineer, I love working on novel tech, and Levitas is truly amazing. It’s such a simple process, but will undoubtedly have a huge impact on cell research going forward.”