Massachusetts Institute of Technology
To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail : jonghoon(at).mit.edu
Microdevices have been used as effective experimental tools for the rapid and multiplexed analysis of individual cells in single-cell assays. Technological advances for miniaturizing such systems and the optimization of delicate controls in micron-sized space homing cells have motivated many researchers from diverse fields (e.g., cancer research, stem cell research, therapeutic agent development, etc.) to employ microtools in their scientific research. Microtools allow high-throughput, multiplexed analysis of single cells, and they are not limited by the lack of large samples. These characteristics may significantly benefit the study of immune cells, where the number of cells available for testing is usually limited. In this review, I present an overview of several microtools that are currently available for single-cell analyses in two popular formats: microarrays and microfluidic microdevices. Then, I discuss the potential to study human immunology on the single-cell level, and I highlight several recent examples of immunoassays performed with single-cell microdevice assays. Finally, I discuss the outlook for the development of optimized assay platforms to study human immune cells. The development and application of microdevices for studies on single immune cells presents novel opportunities for the qualitative and quantitative characterization of immune cells and may lead to a comprehensive understanding of fundamental aspects of human immunology.
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