NK Killing Assays

Natural killer (NK) cells are a class of cytotoxic cells that are part of the innate immune system. They provide a rapid response to virus infections, pathogens and can even fight cancer: watch them attack tumor cells in our ARRALYZE glass well arrays.

Video shows target/tumor cells in green, NK cells in blue and dead cells in red. All cells are enclosed in ARRALYZE glass wells with a top diameter of 90 µm. The time-lapse video is composed of images taken every three minutes for a total duration of 540 minutes. The wells contain different numbers and ratios of target and NK cells. It can be seen that the killing efficiency of these NK cells vary significantly. The section shown here is only one field-of-view - covering 16 wells at a time. In total the chip contained 8.100 wells. The experiment was conducted in collaboration with the Önfelt lab at KTH/Stockholm.

Despite their important role in the immune system, little is known about why some NK cells are more effective than others. Also, little is known if the observed activity reflects only the current metabolic state of NK cells and if individual NK cell activity can change over time. In this context, the possibility of stimulating NK cells by external factors such as drugs is of greatest interest, as this would provide an additional sophisticated tool for modern cancer treatments.  
That is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that current research is focused on uncovering the mechanisms of activation and regulation of this cell type. Of particular interest is the observation that NK cell populations appear to lose the ability to target specific tumor cells after a period of time, with obvious implications for the prognosis and treatment of cancer.
Modern analytical tools that use bulk samples provide only average information about these cell populations.

ARRALYZE, on the other hand, enables not only to study large cell populations in small volumes in an inert environment, but more remarkably, to study cell-cell interactions in real time, uncovering individual characteristics on the single cell level.
We believe that this approach is the missing link to rapidly determine regulatory mechanisms on the biochemical level, and as such, it will become an indispensable tool in modern cell biology laboratories.

Dr. Robin-Alexander Krüger

Dr. Robin A. Krüger
Robin studied chemistry and biochemistry at Philipps University in Marburg, Germany, where he also conducted his doctoral research on fluorescent biomarkers and bacterial photoreceptors. After a postdoctoral stay at the University in Calgary/Canada, he joined LPKF in 2011, where he held various development positions. Since 2020, Robin is leading the ARRALYZE team.

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