Phenotypic cell-based high-throughput screenings play a central role in drug discovery and toxicology. The main tendency in cell screenings is the increase of the throughput and decrease of reaction volume in order to accelerate the experiments, reduce the costs, and enable screenings of rare cells. Conventionally, cell-based assays are performed in microtiter plates, which exist in 96- to 1536-wells formats and cannot be further miniaturized. In addition, performing screenings of suspension cells is associated with risk of losing cell content during the staining procedures and incompatibility with high-content microscopy. Here, we evaluate the Droplet-Microarray screening platform for culturing, screening, and imaging of suspension cells. We demonstrate pipetting-free cell seeding and proliferation of cells in individual droplets of 3-80 nL in volume. We developed a methodology to perform parallel treatment, staining, and fixation of suspension cells in individual droplets. Automated imaging of live suspension cells directly in the droplets combined with algorithms for pattern recognition for image analysis is demonstrated. We evaluated the developed methodology by performing a dose-response study with antineoplastic drugs. We believe that the DMA screening platform carries great potential to be adopted for broad spectrum of screenings of suspension cells.
Keywords: Droplet-Microarray; high-throughput screenings; hydrophobicity; suspension cells.