Novel Electrical Device to Dissociate Tissue Sections into Single Cells for Downstream Single-Cell Analysis


Single-cell analysis is an important analytical tool for studying heterogeneous cellular populations, such as cancer tissues, where rare mutations can drive metastasis and treatment response outcome. A major limitation of the clinical translation of single-cell analysis is the difficulty of isolating single cells from complex tissues. Our novel method of electrical tissue dissociation has a variety of benefits, including its suitability to production, miniaturization, and time reduction.

Market Opportunity

Dissociation of tissues into a suspension of single cells frequently involves proteases and other reagents that disrupt cell-cell attachments, and elevated temperatures to enhance enzymatic reactions. Mechanical actions like vortexing, shaking or centrifuging are used to enhance molecular dispersal and diffusion to the cellular boundaries and to provide forces that can be helpful in disrupting cell-cell attachments. Conventional tissue dissociation can require hours of time and numerous instruments and reagents. Although instruments have been developed to streamline and simplify the process, most are expensive, have low throughput, and are only partially effective.

Innovation and Meaningful Advantages

While other approaches to dissociation are based on chemical, mechanical, or chemo-mechanical forces, our novel device uses an applied electric field. The electrical setup consists of the following components: a 2 mm gap length plastic encased electrode cell with two parallel plates, an adjustable electrical Direct Current (DC) power supply and voltmeter complete with two micro-electrodes, and a custom-made insulating holder. A controlled wave function generator is used to create oscillating voltages. A prototype microfluidic chip has also been developed where the electrodes are sealed onto a custom optically transparent glass slide chip. Optimized conditions have been able to dissociate 95 ± 4% of entire 1 mm biopsy tissue sections within 5 minutes. Our approach could be used to create a simple tissue-sample preparation device that can expedite and multiplex the processing of tissue cores into single cells for downstream single-cell analysis.

Collaboration Opportunity

We are interested in exploring 1) research collaborations and 2) licensing opportunities with companies in the single cell analysis space.

Principal Investigator

Anubhav Tripathi, PhD

Professor of Engineering

Director of Biomedical Engineering

Brown University

IP Information

PCT and US Utility Filed, Priority Date April 20, 2021


Welch EC, Yu H, Barabino G, Tapinos N, Tripathi A. Electric-field facilitated rapid and efficient dissociation of tissues Into viable single cells. Sci Rep. 2022;12(1):10728. Published 2022 Jun 24. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-13068-6



Melissa Simon, PhD

Director of Business Development, Life Sciences

Brown Tech ID 3076

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Brown Technology Innovations
350 Eddy Street - Box 1949
Providence, RI 02903
Anubhav Tripathi
E. Celeste (Cel) Welch
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