Flow cytometry analysis has a significant impact on diagnosing and monitoring diseases in laboratory hematology, hemostasis and immunology. Flow cytometric techniques are now commonly used to diagnose red blood cell disorders, platelet glycoprotein abnormalities, reticulated platelets, as well as activated platelets, immunodeficencies, autoimmune disorders, antigen specific T-cell responses, allergy-testing and transplantation immunology. Advanced flow cytometers have redefined the standards of flow-cytometric analysis, offering greater accuracy, improved turnaround times, and objective results.
Flow cytometry is based on the ability to pass cells single file in a solution through the path of one or more laser beams. It can provide valuable information about how the treatment affects the function of individual cells and also spot subsets of patients that respond to treatment.
State-of-the art Flow Cytometer Models
Manufacturers such as Beckman Coulter Inc, Life Technologies Corporation, EMD Millipore Corp, Sysmex Corporation, Stratedigm, Miltenyi Biotec, Luminex Corporation and Becton Dickinson and Co offer state-of-art automated flow cytometers for clinical and research applications.
The Epic XL system by Beckman Coulter is the only flow cytometer to offer state-of-the-art Digital Signal Processing (DSP) for reliable linearity and drift-free amplification and compensation. While the single laser design does away with concerns about multi-beam stability, signal delay and alignment, the instrument achieves compensation by a unique digital compensation matrix. It is capable of analyzing up to 4 colors of immunofluorescence utilizing a single air-cooled laser.
Becton Dickenson’s BD FACScalibur is a versatile four-color, dual-laser, benchtop flow cytometry system designed to increase productivity in both clinical and research environments. It comes with innovative dual laser technology, powerful software, and an automated sample loader option.
Optimizing Flow Cytometry Analysis
The availability of advanced flow cytometric techniques and materials are creating more opportunities for routine clinical laboratories to use flow cytometry in the diagnosis and management of disease.
While buying a cytometer, check for features such as automatic start-up, shutdown or cleaning, and whether it offers partial or fully automated processing. To make the most of the instrument, lab personnel should:
- Know their device well, including its capabilities, number of lasers and colors
- Optimize sample preparation. Poorly prepared samples can result in inaccurate gating and increased background autofluorescence
- Perform daily routine checks of the instrument to assure quality results
- Choose reagents based on instrument configuration
The flow cytometry market is driven by such as the increasing prevalence rate of disease and the demand for faster and accurate leukemia prognostic tools. It is also fuelled by research related to drug discovery and development, stem cell therapy and in vitro toxicity testing. Clinical and research laboratories need to equip themselves with quality cytometers to stay ahead of the game.