Liang Huang, Shengtai Bian, Yinuo Cheng, Guanya Shi, Peng Liu, Xiongying Ye, Wenhui Wang
Single cell analysis has received increasing attention recently in both academia and clinics, and there is an urgent need for effective upstream cell sample preparation. Two extremely challenging tasks in cell sample preparation—high-efficiency cell enrichment and precise single cell capture—have now entered into an era full of exciting technological advances, which are mostly enabled by microfluidics. In this review, we summarize the category of technologies that provide new solutions and creative insights into the two tasks of cell manipulation, with a focus on the latest development in the recent five years by highlighting the representative works. By doing so, we aim both to outline the framework and to showcase example applications of each task. In most cases for cell enrichment, we take circulating tumor cells (CTCs) as the target cells because of their research and clinical importance in cancer. For single cell capture, we review related technologies for many kinds of target cells because the technologies are supposed to be more universal to all cells rather than CTCs. Most of the mentioned technologies can be used for both cell enrichment and precise single cell capture. Each technology has its own advantages and specific challenges, which provide opportunities for researchers in their own area. Overall, these technologies have shown great promise and now evolve into real clinical applications.