Cell Analysis in a New Light
Flow cytometry can provide rich data to cell biologists working in a wide range of fields, from molecular interactions to systems biology, from pharmacokinetics to cancer biology, from cell signaling to marine biology to biophysics. Use of flow cytometry has blossomed with intensified interest in proteomics, increased use of biomarkers in drug development research and the spread of high-throughput, cell-based drug screening research.
Detecting and analyzing light scatter allows researchers to measure physical characteristics of cells in suspension, such as cell shape, size and internal complexity. Adding fluorescent markers allows researchers to interrogate expressed or secreted proteins that reveal cell phenotype, function and status. Using a broad landscape of cell function assays, flow cytometry can shed light on a variety of sample types, such as whole blood, cell lines and yeast. With three lasers and up to 14 optical channels, the BD FACSCelesta™ flow cytometer can multiplex many of these assays at once on the same sample.
Study Complex Populations at the Single-cell Level
A major strength of flow cytometry is its ability to study complex populations. Western blots, immunoprecipitation and PCR-based techniques rely on lysing the entire sample. Their results provide useful data for the population as a whole, but it can be difficult to compare subsets of cells that might behave differently. Other techniques that examine individual cells, such as microscopy, are hard to scale up for quantitative analysis. Flow cytometry can characterize large numbers of individual cells, allowing it to identify, quantify and characterize different subsets of cells in a heterogeneous population.