An innovative single-cell approach for phenotyping and functional genotyping of CAR NK cells

June, 06, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


To accelerate the translation of novel immunotherapeutic treatment approaches, the development of analytic methods to assess their efficacy at early in vitro stages is necessary. Using a droplet-based microfluidic platform, we have established a method for multiparameter quantifiable phenotypic and genomic observations of immunotherapies. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) natural killer (NK) cells are of increased interest in the current immunotherapy landscape and thus provide an optimal model for evaluating our novel methodology.


For this approach, NK cells transduced with a CD19 CAR were compared with non-transduced NK cells in their ability to kill a lymphoma cell line. Using our microfluidic platform, we were able to quantify the increase in cytotoxicity and synaptic contact formation of CAR NK cells over non-transduced NK cells. We then optimized our droplet sorter and successfully used it to separate NK cells based on target cell killing to perform transcriptomic analyses.


Our data revealed expected improvement in cytotoxicity with the CD19 CAR but more importantly, provided unique insights into the factors involved in the cytotoxic mechanisms of CAR NK cells. This demonstrates a novel, improved system for accelerating the pre-clinical screening of future immunotherapy treatments.


This study provides a new potential approach for enhanced early screening of immunotherapies to improve their development, with a highly relevant cell model to demonstrate. Additionally, our validation studies provided some potential insights into transcriptomic determinants influencing CAR NK cytotoxicity.

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