Rapid Multi-Population Cell Purification with Digital Magnetic Sorting

Updated: Jan 24

Tiemann, T., Sanchez, C., Abdallah, M., Murray, C. "Rapid Multi-Population Cell Purification with Digital Magnetic Sorting." Annual Conference of the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening. January 28, 2020. San Diego, CA, USA.


Isolation of specific cell populations is a critical capability for medical research, diagnostic sample prep, & cell therapy production and is often achieved using magnetic cell purification. While traditional magnetic purification remains a powerful technique for cell enrichment, it has limitations in purifying rare cell populations and performing multi-target enrichments due to its binary nature. Ferrologix is pioneering a new approach of magnetic cell purification known as “digital magnetic sorting” which can rapidly and quantitatively isolate target cells with standard immunomagnetic reagents. Using disposable cartridges composed of paramagnetic micro-structures, immunomagnetically tagged cells can sorted based on a “magnetic intensity” similar to flow cytometry which sorts cells bases on “light intensity” via fluorescent antibodies.

We have demonstrated several specific applications where Ferrologix digital magnetic sorting platform can alleviate scaling challenges in automated sample preparation as well as improve outcomes in downstream assays. In one application, we show the capability of magnetically sorting two cell populations simultaneously by multiplexing magnetic beads of different iron oxide content. This capability allows for more complex and nuanced cell purification steps where “positive selection” and “negative depletion” processes can be achieved at once, which, is not possible with traditional magnetic sorting. In a second application, we show improved purification using the Ferrologix platform compared to traditional magnetic purification due to the platform’s ability to gate out weakly tagged non-target cells from strongly magnetic target cells. We also show how this increased purity improves the fidelity of downstream secretion assays. We believe our digital magnetic sorting platform will be of interest to the lab automation community, especially with integration with fluid handling architectures and standard well plate formats.


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