What is Flow Cytometry?

Flow cytometry is a widely used and powerful technique employed in cell biology research, clinical practice and clinical trials. It is defined as a method for the qualitative and quantitative measurement of biological and physical properties of cells.

What does a flow cytometer do?

Flow cytometry can:

  • quantify the expression of markers (called antigens) such as cell surface receptors and intracellular molecules.
  • Count cells
  • assess cell properties and characteristics such as cell size, granularity, morphology, cell cycle stage, cell viability, apoptosis, proliferation…
  • The reason these information are important is because they allow the characterization and profiling of cells.
  • Flow cytometry helps addressing fundamental and applied research and clinical questions such as:
    • How do cells respond to a certain treatment or stimulus? What is the percentage of a certain cell subpopulation within a heterogeneous cell population? What is the function and phenotype of analyzed cells?
  • The power of such technique lies in:
    • its throughput: up to thousands of cells can be analyzed per second, offering statistical power
  • the potential to analyze single cells, rather than averaging measurements over a number of cells.
  • the fact that it allows simultaneous multiparametric analysis of cell markers and properties. This means that for each single analyzed cell, multiple information are collected at the same time, by concurrently quantifying the expression of several markers. 
  • its relative ease of use and low cost

What is FACS?

A variant of flow cytometry is called FACS: Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting. It is an important technique that leverages flow cytometry to sort, physically separate, enrich or purify cell populations of interest based on the expression of markers defined by the user.

Flow Cytometry Today

Since its first uses in the 1950s, engineers, chemists and biologists made several innovations to achieve the capabilities of today’s flow cytometers which can simultaneously detect more than 50-60 parameters (cell markers or physical properties) on individual cells at a rate of more than 10,000 cells per second. 

About EasyPanel

EasyPanel is an Automated and Intelligent tool for flow cytometry panel design (traditional and spectral cytometers). It is licensed by leading biotech, pharma and academic flow core facilities to design optimized panels of up to 48 colors in seconds or minutes.
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