Recently, the development of microfluidic, technology-enabled analysis of cell phenomena on the single-cell level has been a growing area of research within the academic realm. Current microfluidic platforms based on micro-well technologies do not provide a robust protocol for cell co-encapsulation in a controllable microenvironment, nor do they provide simultaneous surface and secretion monitoring. 
Micro-wells permit gravity-based sedimentation of cells into the holding sites using a two-step cell loading process to promote heterotypic contact between the immune cells. While these methods are compatible with multiplexed, high‑throughput time-lapse microscopy for dynamic live cell analysis, they neither preclude drifting of non-adherent cells over time nor prevent cross-talk between neighboring cell pairs.
Technology Overview
Northeastern researchers proposed a robust design that facilitates fast and consistent droplet generation with ~70% single-particle loading in droplets as well as incubation in the docking droplet array with high (~90%) cell viability for several days depending on the cell type. 
Furthermore, this microfluidic droplet device allows superior control over heterotypic cell interactions by co-encapsulating two (or three) types of individual cells, assessing contact-dependent and -independent cell interactions, and analyzing their effector functions. 
The proposed device design also ensures isolation of activator and target cell pairs (i.e., DC and T cells, NK and cancer cells) before interaction in droplets. This method permits the tracking of cells from the point of contact initiation, which would not be possible with non-adherent cells in conventional culture conditions. Furthermore, the interrogated cell will be co-encapsulated along with ultra sensitive fluorescent labeling bio-assays for functional activity of the cell and detecting surface biomarkers to monitor cell surface changes.
- Dynamic and simultaneous multi-parameter analysis of both cell surface markers and secretions 
- Controlled delivery on-demand of regulatory agents and therapeutics 
- Profiling of pairwise cell-cell interactions on a one-to-one basis 
- Tumor vaccine 
- Analysis of maturation and activation markers of immune cells
- License
- Partnering
- Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Tania Konry
Saheli Sarkar
Singe cell