Material studied: Cells
Methods used: Microfluidics, single molecule mRNA fluorescence in situ hybridization
Cells are their own individuals. Neighboring cells of the same type have unique profiles, and cancer cells within a tumor develop their own unique mutations. Yet, ‘omics approaches usually analyze large populations of cells—grinding up a tissue or organ sample—such that the results reflect the average of a population of cells.
Single-cell ‘omics aims to understand the profiles of individual cells, and address questions such as how microenvironments influence cell physiology.
Single cells are first captured using microdissection and microfluidics devices, before their genetic material is extracted and amplified for analysis.