Single cell metabolomic and lipidomic information is crucial when studying disease progression at the cellular level. Cells are naturally heterogeneous yet most analytical technologies measure average cellular chemistry or require molecular probes to investigate the chemistry in a single cell, the latter of which may have unforeseen consequences on cellular chemistry. This invention describes an innovative methodology for rapid, in situ molecular characterization of single cells suspended in their native media. This invention enables quantitative, targeted and/or untargeted chemical analysis of single cells without extensive sample preparation procedures while being able to measure single cells with high throughput. Current technologies require an involved preparation procedure and use of matrix matched standards to quantitate cellular metabolites. This invention provides a simple method for absolute determination of the concentration of target analyte(s) within a single cell. Further, many single cell analysis techniques trade chemical coverage for sampling throughput. This invention will provide untargeted mass spectrometric analysis of single cells with the throughput necessary to obtain statistics of cellular populations.
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