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Single cell assay for analyzing single cell exosome and endocrine secretion and cancer markers


To understand the inhomogeneity of cells in biological systems, there is a growing demand for the capability to characterize the properties of individual single cells. Since single cell studies require continuous monitoring of the cell behaviors instead of a snapshot test at a single time point, an effective single-cell assay that can support time lapsed studies in a high throughput manner is desired. Most currently available single-cell technologies cannot provide proper environments to sustain cell growth and cannot provide, for appropriate cell types, proliferation of single cells and convenient, non-invasive tests of single cell behaviors from molecular markers. In this dissertation, I present a highly versatile single-cell assay that can accommodate different cellular types, enable easy and efficient single cell loading and culturing, and be suitable for the study of effects of in-vitro environmental factors in combination with drug screening. The salient features of the assay are the non-invasive collection and surveying of single cell secretions at different time points and massively parallel translocation of single cells by user defined criteria, producing very high compatibility to the downstream process such as single cell qPCR and sequencing. Above all, the acquired information is quantitative — for example, one of the studies is measured by the number of exosomes each single cell secretes for a given time period. Therefore, our single-cell assay provides a convenient, low-cost, and enabling tool for quantitative, time lapsed studies of single cell properties.

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