Design Concerns for Flow Cytometry
Authors: Mic Chaudoir, PhD, and Jerry Rosato
Design Considerations for Clinical Flow Cytometry
Medicine is moving into an area of increasingly personalized treatment plans. The data driving this revolution comes largely from single cell analysis. There are many ways to gather the necessary data, but flow cytometry and related techniques (cell analyzers) provide direct results, single cell nature and potential for cell population statistics. While there are many novel forms of flow cytometers available, this discussion will focus on flow cytometers utilizing optical analysis techniques.
Modern cytometry protocols depend on several steps: producing the sample for study by staining or other techniques, creating a flow of single cells through a flow cell, bringing coherent light to that stream of single cells and collecting light after interaction with the subject samples. Post data collection, cells are often collected and/or sorted for further use.
Here we examine the various elements of a cytometer, the interaction of these elements in making measurements and the design trade-offs involved. Careful consideration of the various design elements is critical to reliability and performance of the final system. While lasers and detectors used are critical components, the importance of fiber optic systems to relay light internally is often overlooked. Fiber optic couplers and splitters can simplify assembly while maintaining transmission and can be easily integrated with both laser-based and LED-based illumination systems. These fiber optic cables are a critical element in any successful flow cytometer design, and they are part of some of the latest innovations in flow cytometry.