The outcome of many pathological diseases including cancer is determined by types (functional and phenotypical) of immune cells present in the body. The existence of tremendous heterogeneity in these cells influences the time taken for the immune reaction and an individual’s ability to recover from the illness. Hence, assessing the intracellular and intercellular signaling to assess heterogeneity of immune cells by single-cell analysis is important for translational medicine. The current single-cell analytical methods are unable to analyze dynamic changes in cell signaling. 


Technology Overview

Northeastern University researchers have developed bioassays for detecting responses from single cells, cellular secretions, or neighboring pairs suspended in micro-scale droplets (80-200µm diameter) generated in microfluidic platforms. These droplets serve as bioreactors for the encapsulated cells and ensure viability and functionality. It also allows for the analysis of single and multiple cell responses to assess heterogeneity. The platform provides the flexibility of tracking singular as well as serial interactions between two cell types, thereby mimicking the situation in vivo where one cell type may encounter large populations of a secondary cell type. 



  • Assess the heterogeneity of cell responses in any cell population
  • Detection of dynamic cellular responses over long periods (hours to days)
  • Rapid responses obtained (1-6hrs) from single-cell studies 
  • Equally applicable for single-cell studies, detecting cell-cell interaction at single-cell resolution, and population-level studies in complex multicellular constructs
  • Minimal sample and reagent volumes are required



  •  Potential use for assessment of:
    • Miniaturized tumor constructs in microfluidic droplets
    • Novel biomarkers
    • Combination drugs for immune cell-based therapies
    • Cell responses for various cell types, including clinical samples from patients 



  • License
  • Research Collaboration
  • Partnering
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Tania Konry
Saheli Sarkar
Pooja Sabhachandani