In response to reduced reliance on core lab services, manufacturers of flow cytometers have been busily upgrading instrument capabilities for expert and casual users. We have seen this trend before, notably in high-priced instruments like nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometers.
Toward this end, BD Biosciences (San Jose, CA) has launched a noncore four-laser cell analyzer that detects up to 18 colors, as well as a seven- laser cell sorter that paves the way for six-way sorting (for six distinct cell populations) in core labs. Similarly, BD has created an upgrade path for its Aria line of cell sorters, from three or four lasers to six or more.
“This means that users who are experienced users can experience higher throughput and get more information out of their experiments,” notes J. Clark Mason, Ph.D., BD’s senior director for research instrumentation.
For Dr. Mason, the distinguishing characteristic of core lab vs. individual group instruments is not so much size as capability or instrument complexity. It all comes down to economics and usage. If an instrument will not be used around the clock, in generally makes more sense to install a half-million-dollar flow cytometer as a core instrument. “Flow cytometers with five- to seven-laser capability are almost always found in core labs, where the workflows justify the capital equipment cost. Research labs tend to operate more economically.”
Like Dr. Mason, Accuri Cytometers (Ann Arbor, MI) believes manufacturers must simultaneously serve the needs for complex, multicolor analysis and what VP of Marketing Grant Howes calls “bread and butter analysis with four colors or less, which constitutes the vast majority of current work.” Instruments and methods serving the latter market need to be easy to learn, use, and teach; be highly reliable; and have a low cost of ownership across the lifecycle.
“Miniaturization and standardization have become critical for reaching these less sophisticated users,” Mr. Howes says.
Labs that do not require the high level of sophistication of five-, six-, and seven-laser instruments benefit from running sorting or counting experiments themselves: Results are obtained in minutes vs. hours or days, and personnel acquire hands-on experience with flow methods. Facilities gain as well, since core instrument operators, who tend to be experts, are now free to pursue data analysis and other “brain” work.
When scouting an FC purchase, buyers should seek the “best fit for function,” Mr. Howes says.
Users running simple assays involving cell viability or counting often don’t require a high level of sophistication. “These purchasers should balance ease of setup, of running samples, and [of] acquiring/analyzing data against cost of use and investment in learning to use the instrument.”
Users should be able to operate a twolaser system within a few hours of opening the box; morecomplex instruments may require a three-to-four-day training course.
Data features are critical: For example, must the instrument be networked? Need it be compatible with third-party data storage or analysis applications?
Finally, Dr. Mason of BD encourages potential buyers to analyze their current and future cytometry needs based on their technical expertise and to budget accordingly.
BD Accuri® C6
- Easy to use, simple to maintain, and affordable
- Equipped with a blue and a red laser, two light scatter detectors, and four fluorescence detectors with optical filters optimized for the detection of fluorochromes
- BD Accuri CFlow® software Zoom function allows visualization of data at any scale
- Tested to ensure the design can withstand rugged conditions
Flow Cytometry Analysis Software
- Processes multicolor files of up to 10 million events in real time
- The NVIDIA Tesla Supercomputer option allows for even faster data processing
- Analyzes data from various platforms, such as MoFlo Series sortersm CyAn ADP and Gallios flow cytometry analyzers, and systems such as iCys and iCyte automated imaging cytometers
Attune® Acoustic Focusing Cytometer
- New laser configuration (blue/red) enables users to perform a wider range of research applications, including rare-event detection and environmental studies
- Sensitivity of the instrument facilitates analysis of precious, difficult-to-acquire samples
- Allows quick acquisition of diluted samples and simplified workflow with a no-lyse, no-wash, no cell loss method for sample preparation
CyFlow® Cube 6
- Includes 1 or 2 Lasers, 6 Optical Parameters - 4 Colors
- Features high-performance, bench-top design
- Also includes built-in PC and two built-in 15.4” TFT monitors
- Choice of 488, 638, 407, 355, 375, 532, 561, 594, 785 nm lasers
- Optional high power 365 nm UV LED for highest resolution DNA analysis with CV ≤ 1%