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Inside the Lab Technology and innovation

The HIVE™: The Bees’ Knees of Single-Cell Technology

sponsored by PerkinElmer

Honeycomb Biotechnologies began as a PerkinElmer Accelerator project in 2018, based on technology developed and licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although extremely promising, our first customer training was a disaster and we quickly realized that the “academic” version of our product was not suited for widespread commercial adoption. So we went back to the drawing board and designed an entirely new, user-friendly format – the HIVE. As with many things in life, it took us longer to develop than planned, but it resulted in something different and stronger than before.

The HIVE™ is a portable, handheld, single-use device developed by Honeycomb Biotechnologies for the capture, storage, and genomic profiling of single-cell biological samples. The capture protocol is simple; cell suspensions are loaded into HIVEs with a pipette, followed by a cell preservative that locks in the cell’s expression profile. HIVEs can then be stored and shipped to a central processing location for library preparation and sequencing.

At Honeycomb, we strongly believe that single-cell genomics will follow the trajectory of genomics and next-generation sequencing – initial basic research followed by new diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Based on our strengths in distributed sample capture and storage, we believe we are ideally suited to accelerate single-cell opportunities in the clinical domain. 

RNA and protein expression changes rapidly for cells once they are removed from a host; therefore, true expression profiles require sample processing as soon as possible after acquisition. The concept of instrument-free sample capture with storage greatly expands the opportunities for single-cell profiling, especially for customers pursuing distributed research.

How is Honeycomb defining this research? The HIVE delivers three areas of innovation to the single-cell space: i) gentle loading of cells into nanowells, enabling the capture of almost any type of cell; ii) an instrument-free capture approach that allows for sample collection almost anywhere; and iii) storage capability that facilitates sample processing at almost any time. We believe that our ability to operate in entirely new settings (both distributed and clinical) will accelerate the overall growth and opportunities of the single-cell universe.

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