Current methods for evaluating quality and durability of cells in immunotherapeutic products like CAR-T are either lacking or present limited reliability. The ability to identify and characterize immune cells on a single-cell level without labeling would be highly valuable for biomedical research and clinical trials where unmodified cells are required.

We are developing analytical applications for dye-free monitoring of human T cell activation and viral transduction by optical means using image-based cell profiling methods.  An application for the detection of T cell activation by quantitative phase imaging (QPI) was developed. We showed that stimulated cells could be statistically distinguished from non-stimulated by optical morphology fingerprints obtained from their phase images.

Miniaturization of cell bioprocessing platforms and performing cell quality control (QC) analysis in a fast and low-cost way would be a benefit. Microfluidic devices were tested, and quantitative phase imaging was applied to detect non-activated and activated T cells in a microfluidic chip. This represents a first step towards high throughput analytical platforms for CAR-T cells.

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