Cells are the fundamental units of living organisms. Despite the apparent synchrony in cellular systems, even individual cells from the same cell line or tissue can present distinct genomes, transcriptomes, and epigenomes during cell division and differentiation. Therefore, it is necessary to isolate the cells for further analysis, which is valuable for diagnostics, biotechnological and biomedical research.
Single cell isolation techniques are the methods to physically separate individual cells from each other and/or from matrix materials. A variety of single cell isolation technologies have been developed, including fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS), manual cell picking, laser capture microdissection, limiting dilution, microfluidics, and others. The performance of these isolation technologies is typically characterized by single-cell yield, cell viability (after isolation), purity (the fraction of target cells collected after isolation), throughput (how many cells can be isolated in a certain time), number of cells needed, and costs. In general, the choice of a cell isolation technology depends on the nature and origin of the sample, as well as the processing or analysis of the cells after isolation.