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Sphere Fluidics begins work with partners on 3DSecret program to investigate mechanisms of metastasis in cancer

  • 3DSecret funded by European Innovation Council’s Pathfinder Open 2022, established under the EU Horizon Europe program

  • Consortium to leverage novel microfluidic technology to culture 3D cancer models for multi-parametric analysis, to inform cancer diagnostic and therapeutic development

Sphere Fluidics, a company developing single cell analysis systems underpinned by its patented picodroplet technology, announced its involvement in 3DSecret, a four-year research project funded through the European Innovation Council’s (EIC) Pathfinder Open 2022, established under Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding program for research and innovation. Coordinated by the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), the consortium has been awarded €3.4M and aims to develop novel technologies to investigate the stochastic patterns behind metastasis at the single-cell level, to predict cancer evolution.

3DSecret brings together multidisciplinary experts in microfluidics, nanosensors, artificial intelligence (AI), cell genomics and transcriptomics from four European countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom). As a consortium partner, Sphere Fluidics is providing its patented picodroplet technology to support development of an integrated microfluidic device, the 3DSecret-chip, for the reproducible and controlled formation of 3D spheroids from single cancer cells. Subsequent multi-parametric analysis of the datasets will incorporate Raman spectroscopy, DNA and RNA sequencing, and AI modelling, to identify cells causing metastasis and underlying patterns. These findings will inform future development of new diagnostic methods and treatments to manage cancer.

With its Pathfinder program, the EIC supports the exploration of bold ideas for radically new technologies, welcoming the high-risk/high-gain and interdisciplinary cutting-edge science collaborations that underpin technological breakthroughs. The EIC has a budget of €10.1 billion to support game-changing innovations, from early-stage research through to proof-of-concept, technology transfer, and the financing and scale-up of start-ups and SMEs.

Funding was awarded to 3DSecret ( in October 2022 and the project will run to the end of 2026. Under the coordination of Dr. Sara Abalde-Cela at the INL (, partners include:


Dr. Sara Abalde-Cela, Project Coordinator, 3DSecret, commented: “The 3DSecret project, besides having the potential to unlock hidden mechanisms behind metastasis, will provide bleeding tech breakthrough developments to the fields of microfluidics, single-cell studies, sequencing and AI applied to health.”


Dr. Frank F Craig, CEO, Sphere Fluidics, said: “The anticipated technical and scientific discoveries within the 3DSecret program hold great potential to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of cancer by taking a radical bottom-up holistic approach: from cancer single-cells to 3D spheroids. Following funding, we’re now excited to get started on the project and initiate the collaboration amongst consortium members, which will be key to 3DSecret’s hopeful breakthrough. Through our involvement, we are further demonstrating the scope of applications our technology can support to facilitate cutting-edge biotherapeutic discovery and development.”