With advances in immunology and cancer biology, there is an unmet need for increasingly sensitive systems to monitor the expression of specific cell markers for the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic tools. To address this challenge, a highly sensitive labeling method that translates antigen–antibody recognition processes into DNA detection events that can be greatly amplified via isothermal rolling circle amplification (RCA) is applied. By merging the single-molecule detection power of RCA reactions with microfluidic technology, it is demonstrated that the identification of specific protein markers can be achieved on tumor-cell surfaces in miniaturized nanoliter reaction droplets. Furthermore, this combined approach of signal amplification in a microfluidic format could extend the utility of existing methods by reducing sample and reagent consumption and enhancing the sensitivities and specificities for various applications, including early diagnosis of cancer.
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