Background: There has been significant interest in developing high-throughput screening systems to evaluate cells and cellular behavior within the cells’ physiological niches. The evaluation efforts are important to understand the potential interaction of various therapeutics with cells or a group of cells within the native cell microenvironment.
Technology: Krishnendu Roy, and Kirsten Parratt from the School of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech have developed a method to simultaneously analyze a large number of cell properties in a biomimetic three-dimensional microenvironment with minimal disruption of cell-cell and cell-material interactions. The high-throughput assay system allows for very high number of replicates measured within a few seconds using already established and widely available instrumentation. The developed method utilizes shape and size-specific microgels as model three-dimensional cell niches and combines microgel shape with size and fluorescence, as a novel multiplexing variable in flow cytometry. The addition of shape and size as multiplexing variables is important because fluorescence alone gives very little multiplexing capability (maximum of 15-18 detectable variables) compared to hundreds of parameters that can be evaluated using the described technology. Current approaches in evaluating cell-material interactions require the seeding of cells on or in an array of polymers deposited on a glass slide, which is difficult to analyze quickly and is restricted to the examination of fewer parameters and very few replicates.
Potential Commercial Applications: The invention has the potential to enhance cellular research including cancer research. There is a critical need in cancer research to develop high-throughput, robust fabrication methods to generate thousands of replicates of complex tumor niches, develop flow cytometry-based, non-destructive assays for these niches and implement new approaches to significantly increase the degree of multiplexing for currently available flow cytometry methods.
Benefits / Advantages:
Enables the evaluation of cell properties in a biomimetic three-dimensional microenvironment with minimal disruption of cell-cell and cell-material interactions
Multiplies many times the number of variables that can be analyzed without significantly increasing the time of analysis
Increases the statistical confidence level of acquired data
Utilizes established and widely available instrumentation