Quantitative Single Cell Proteomics for Stem Cell Analysis in Microfluidic Devices

Stem cells are defined by their unique capabilities to either replicate (self-renew) or differentiate into more specialized cell types such as nerve cells (neurons), immune cells and skin cells. If health researchers could controllably direct stem cells to differentiate into particular cell types, stem cells could potentially be used as clinical therapeutics for a diverse range of diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune disorders, heart and liver disease, and cancer. Presently, the control of stem cell differentiation is hampered because researchers lack the necessary knowledge and tools for studying the molecular pathways that guide stem cell differentiation into specific cell types. Anupam Singhal’s research seeks to harness recent advances in micron-sized fluid-handling devices and nanotechnology in order to quantitatively study stem cells at the single cell level. In particular, he will propose a general platform for performing rapid and high-throughput quantification of multiple proteins in single stem cells. This strategy should help to identify proteins (e.g. transcription factors for gene expression, secreted proteins) that influence the stem cell fate decision. This information will then be used to construct model molecular pathways that guide stem cell differentiation, a critical milestone that must be reached before stem cells will find widespread clinical applications.