Flow Cytometry

By increasing the number of viable channels that

can be used for cell characterisation and improving instrument sensitivity, cell biology can be studied in much greater detail, potentially putting more translationally-relevant information in the hands of drug discovery scientists. These advances also allow the collection of more useful data from much smaller tissue samples. Not only is this more con- venient for sample donors, it also allows laborato- ries to get more value from their existing work- flows, helping to boost operational efficiency. As such, the latest advances in multichannel flow cytometry are poised to accelerate research and even improve success rates in a wide range of fields, including biomarker discovery and target identification.

Realising the full potential of automation With throughput an important requirement for screening applications, manufacturers of flow cytometry platforms have devoted considerable resources to improving system capacity and speed in recent years. The commercial availability of instruments capable of processing large-scale micro-384 well plates at rates of tens of thousands of cells per second presents a wealth of opportuni- ties for high-throughput screening applications. Moreover, the steady adoption of automation into flow cytometry workflows has led to more efficient processes that allow laboratories to work with much smaller volumes, boosting efficiency and measurement precision. Despite this, poor instru- ment flexibility has meant that manual instrument set-up and switchover steps are typically still required – a time-consuming practice that prevents many organisations from fully realising the full efficiency benefits of automation. “A lack of flexibility when changing between

sample formats has proven to be a major bottle- neck in flow cytometry workflows, particularly for multi-user research labs that use a lot of different

plate formats,” explains Dr Xiaoti Guo, Global Commercialisation Product Manager at Bio-Rad Laboratories. “To run plated samples, for example, incumbent systems typically require users to switch to an external plate loader and manually attach the plate sampling tubing to the sample injection port. These steps can be cumbersome and often require extra attention.” Some instrument manufacturers, such as Bio-

Rad Laboratories, are addressing this issue by developing systems with integrated sample loaders that can accommodate all widely-used sample con- tainer formats. These systems reduce the need for manual changeover, freeing up scientists to work on other tasks. Additionally, the software solutions used to support these automated platforms are highly configurable, allowing laboratories to tailor their systems to their individual application needs. With these streamlined workflows, organisations engaged in drug discovery can benefit from more efficient processes, potentially accelerating success- ful outcomes.

Commercially-available flow cytometry systems A broad range of flow cytometry systems is cur- rently available on the market. A selection is high- lighted here.

Bio-Rad Laboratories’ ZE5 Cell Analyzer (Figure 1) is designed with throughput, speed and flexibil- ity in mind and can be configured with up to five lasers and 30 detectors. With this high parameter set-up, the system is capable of handling either high-colour panels or panels with minimal com- pensation; ZE5’s fast fluidics and powerful elec- tronics enable high-speed analysis of particles at 100,000 events per second without compromising data quality. Its innovative sample pump allows sampling from a volume as low as 2 microlitres, which greatly saves both samples and reagents. The sample loading platform accommodates 40- or

Figure 2 NovoCyte Quanteon Flow Cytometer with NovoSampler Q autosampler support 27 detection channels for rapid, automated large scale sample processing

Drug Discovery World Spring 2019


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