Introduction: Why Analyze Single Cells?

  • Dino Di CarloEmail author
  • Henry Tat Kwong Tse
  • Daniel R. Gossett
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 853)


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 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dino Di Carlo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Henry Tat Kwong Tse
    • 1
  • Daniel R. Gossett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BioengineeringUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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