US-based Menarini-Silicon Biosystems has unveiled its DEPArray NxT digital cell-sorting system, the latest development of its technology employed to precisely locate rare cells from heterogeneous samples, allowing the downstream analysis of live or fixed cells for a wide range of applications.

An automated cell sorting and isolation system, the DEPArray NxT can be utilised for a range of applications including cancer genomics to forensics and non-invasive prenatal diagnosis.

It functions on the principle of dielectrophoresis (DEP) to separate and shift the cancer cells from stromal cells and infiltrating lymphocytes on a low quality and less specimen.

Menarini-Silicon Biosystems chief scientific officer Nicolò Manaresi said: "For the clinical oncology researcher, DEPArray NxT delivers a 100% pure sample of cancer cells starting from biopsied tissues or blood samples for next-generation sequencing analysis.

"Our vision is to be the gateway to precision medicine, and to greatly impact the way cancer is treated."

It is also instrumental in resolving the complexities associated with downstream next generation sequencing (NGS) and other applications.

DEPArray NxT can also be utilised to solve the problem of intra-tumour heterogeneity by allowing the separation of tumour subpopulations with different DNA content.

It is based on flow-based technology, which immobilises the target cells by DEP forces exerted between upper and lower electrodes embedded in the cartridge trap into a two-dimensional grid formation.

"Our vision is to be the gateway to precision medicine, and to greatly impact the way cancer is treated."

The cells are then tested by an image analysis to detect the immobilised cell’s phenotypic characteristics, such as size, shape, and the presence or absence of one or more target surface proteins, which shapes the required therapy and the monitoring of disease progression.

The DEPArray NxT features a user-friendly interface and can fit into any lab space and enabling a pure cell preparation in a short time and with reduced operator interaction.

It is light and compact and is fitted with an electronic control module, a fluorescence microscope, a CCD camera, software, and a single-use microfluidic car-tridge.

It includes an external barcode reader for sample-positive identification and unambiguous operator identification, automatic report generation and advanced tools for image analysis.

Image: DEPArray NxT for a fast and automated recovery of pure single cells or groups of cells. Photo: courtesy of PR Newswire Association LLC.