Single-Cell Microgels: Technology, Challenges, and Applications

Tom Kamperman, Marcel Karperien, Séverine Le Gac, Jeroen Leijten* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Single-cell-laden microgels effectively act as the engineered counterpart of the smallest living building block of life: a cell within its pericellular matrix. Recent breakthroughs have enabled the encapsulation of single cells in sub-100-μm microgels to provide physiologically relevant microniches with minimal mass transport limitations and favorable pharmacokinetic properties. Single-cell-laden microgels offer additional unprecedented advantages, including facile manipulation, culture, and analysis of individual cell within 3D microenvironments. Therefore, single-cell microgel technology is expected to be instrumental in many life science applications, including pharmacological screenings, regenerative medicine, and fundamental biological research. In this review, we discuss the latest trends, technical challenges, and breakthroughs, and present our vision of the future of single-cell microgel technology and its applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)850-865
Number of pages16
JournalTrends in biotechnology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • hydrogels
  • microenvironments
  • microfabrication
  • microfluidics
  • regenerative medicine
  • single cell analysis
  • 3D culture


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