Single-Cell Analysis

Volume 853 of the series Methods in Molecular Biology pp 1-10


Introduction: Why Analyze Single Cells?

  • Dino Di CarloAffiliated withDepartment of Bioengineering, University of California Email author 
  • , Henry Tat Kwong TseAffiliated withDepartment of Bioengineering, University of California
  • , Daniel R. GossettAffiliated withDepartment of Bioengineering, University of California

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Powerful methods in molecular biology are abundant; however, in many fields including hematology, stem cell biology, tissue engineering, and cancer biology, data from tools and assays that analyze the average signals from many cells may not yield the desired result because the cells of interest may be in the minority—their behavior masked by the majority—or because the dynamics of the populations of interest are offset in time. Accurate characterization of samples with high cellular heterogeneity may only be achieved by analyzing single cells. In this chapter, we discuss the rationale for performing analyses on individual cells in more depth, cover the fields of study in which single-cell behavior is yielding new insights into biological and clinical questions, and speculate on how single-cell analysis will be critical in the future.

Key words

Single-cell analysis Microfluidics Biomicrofluidics Cellular heterogeneity