Immunological screenings for different infections and cancers can yield essential information for developing effect treatments. The efficiency and accuracy of screenings can be improved by choosing efficient matrices and type of assay. Different 3D matrices have been used for immunological screenings. However, due to limited bio‑adhesion and mobility, there has been no significant improvement. The use of biomimetic matrices requires external equipment and complex systems. Selecting the isolated droplets by fluorescent-activated droplet sorting, limits the assay type to a fluorescent-based assay. Thus, there is a need for a novel technology to expand immunological screenings.


Northeastern researchers have put forward a microfluidic device and an assay designed to allow high-throughput generation, culturing, and subsequent screening of liquid or 3D hydrogel-based droplets containing combinations of targets of tumor drug/cell therapy screenings.


Technology Overview


The invention is based on a microfluidic device fabricated through standard photo/soft-lithography, which consists of two layers. In the first layer, hydrogel droplets are generated based on the on-chip co-flow of a fibrinogen solution and a thrombin solution. The two solutions may contain cells for biological assays which are mixed at a microchannel junction. Each docking site in the array is designed to have at least one lateral collection channel. In the second layer, the valve is connected to pneumatic inlets. When required, the valve can be actuated selectively to fill the desired docking site. The fluid flow displaces the droplet towards a fluidic outlet for collection. After collection, tests are run on the targets, or cell expansion can be performed off-chip in microwells or on-chip in liquid droplets routinely supplemented with additional culture media. This device improves the immunological screenings by enhancing cell adhesion, motility, migration, and provides a wide variety of assays that can be run on the cells.




o Simple, easy to use platform

o Hydrogel droplets provide cell adhesion, motility, and migration

o Matrix-crosslinking occurs within the device

o Ease in droplet handling and retrieving by pneumatic control

o Selective droplets monitoring

o High-throughput evaluation at single- or multi-cell level




o Cancer therapy screening and development

o Studies of solid tumors in vivo like conditions

o Biological testing and evaluation of immunotherapies

o Evaluation of the efficacy for drug delivery systems and therapeutic regimens






Research Collaboration



Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Vaibhav Saini
Senior Manager Commercialization
Northeastern University
Giovanni Ugolini
Tania Konry
Analytical Chemistry
Immunological/Autoimmune Disease