Immune profiling using small volume blood samples

Tatyana Dobreva, David Brown, Jong Hwee Park, & Matt Thomson

Patent US20210324447A1


Single cell profiling of capillary blood enables out of clinic human immunity studies

Tatyana Dobreva, David Brown, Jong Hwee Park, & Matt Thomson

Scientific Reports (2020)


Patient-Centric Sampling

ImYoo is using a virtually painless capillary blood self-collection device called TAP II (from YourBio Health),  allowing people to participate in immune studies from home. Participants self-collect blood with the TAP II self collection device and mail their samples to the ImYoo lab.

The TAP II is placed on the upper arm and enables painless blood collection with the push of a button, typically taking less than 5 minutes. Remote microsampling removes barriers to research, including site initiation, staffing, and recruitment.

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ImYoo's End-to-End Pipeline

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ImYoo's end-to-end technology platform was initially developed at the Caltech Single-Cell Profiling and Engineering Center.  The pipeline sample input is 100 microliters of capillary blood, which produces isolated white blood cells compatible with single cell RNA sequencing platforms. We have demonstrated that cell type distributions from our pipeline are comparable to that of venous blood. Moreover, Toma & colleagues in 2021 also showed strong correlation between RNA in venous and capillary blood (DOI: 10.2144/btn-2020-0088).

ImYoo streamlines the entire scRNA-seq experimental and computational workflow, allowing us to scale at low cost. Since we can collect and process hundreds of samples in parallel, ImYoo can perform longitudinal studies, where each patient is tracked over many timepoints. Small volumes of plasma or whole blood from the collected samples can also be used in other assays for paired multi-omics readouts, such as proteomics, metabolomics or glycomics. 


On the computational side, ImYoo’s custom-built software pipeline includes data management, data processing, machine learning and analysis. In owning and optimizing the entire experimental and computational workflow, ImYoo enables large studies at rapid speed and consistent quality. 


ImYoo’s platform has been stress-tested on multiple studies with commercial and academic partners. One ImYoo validation study included hundreds of patients sampled at a single timepoint across more than a dozen conditions. ImYoo also conducted several single-collection and longitudinal studies with dozens of samples each. ImYoo studies currently in progress utilize either drive-by sample collection or cryopreserved samples. We are developing a sample preservation solution to enable at-home sample self collection and mail shipping.

The Possibilities with Single Cell RNA Sequencing

Single cell RNA sequencing is a new technology that measures the mRNA content of individual cells from a biological sample. It is similar to traditional bulk RNA sequencing (typically referred to as RNA-seq). Unlike bulk, scRNA-seq generates the profiles of different cell types in a sample from a single experiment; there's no need to enrich for cell types with flow cytometry and other sorting techniques. Meanwhile, ImYoo keeps scRNA-seq cost-competitive with bulk RNA-seq per experiment. ImYoo profiles cells individually and then computationally clusters them, identifying pure cell populations of interest. Our workflow helps us achieve high-quality cell type profiles, plus identify new and rare cell types of interest. 


In one run, ImYoo can profile 1,000 to 20,000 cells per sample, thereby detecting rare cell types that would otherwise go unnoticed in bulk RNA-seq. With ImYoo’s computational platform, you can automatically label and cluster dozens of cell types in a typical blood sample. You can also identify abnormal cell populations, such as those displaying markers for cancers.


Think of ImYoo’s platform as bulk RNA-seq on FACS purified cells for dozens of cell types in a sample. For a single sample, the cost is comparable. And since ImYoo identifies cell types computationally, we can catch minute differences that elude FACS sorting, such as cell states, cycles, and rare cell types.

ImYoo makes it easy to profile diverse patient populations at home.

We are looking for partners interested in performing longitudinal immune studies: companies, researchers, patients, foundations and funders. We are interested in talking to you.