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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Dealing with the Deluge

Flow cytometry is a technique for cell characterisation that is popularly used in basic and translational research for understanding, for example, how mutated stem cells may confer therapy resistance to a tumour (1). Alternatively, cell characterisation can be used to measure cell receptors during activation or as a response to immunosuppressive drugs. A flow cytometer consists of a narrow, hydrodynamically-focused stream of cells that pass and are interrogated by a light source. The cells’ physical characteristics of size and granularity, as well as any fluorescent labels attached in or on the cells, scatter the beam of light. Fluorescent labels attached will then be excited, enabling the appropriate emission characteristics to be measured in relative terms of fluorescent intensity.

Flow cytometer manufacturers have responded to the needs of modern researchers by developing faster systems that can measure more variables over shorter time periods for applications such as detecting tumour cells in peripheral blood and examining different aspects of stem cell differentiation. However, the ability of the software that flow cytometers rely on to analyse and visualise the rapidly rising tide of data now being generated has lagged way behind these improvements in instrument technology. This article examines some of the approaches that enlightened software manufacturers are now taking to speed up and simplify data analysis and support the revolution in flow cytometry research.


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Gillian Byrne is the Product Specialist of Applied Cytometry. Gillian’s responsibilities include establishing and maintaining expert technical knowledge of the company’s products and determining the market needs for effective product launch strategies. She plays an active role in developing business relationships with customers of the flow cytometry industry as well as displaying her expert product knowledge at global industry related events. As a biomedical science graduate, Gillian’s career was mainly spent in the public sector before venturing into the private sector, working as a state registered biomedical scientist for a clinical microbiology laboratory. Here she gained valuable skills in all aspects of bacteriology, serology and molecular biology, giving her first hand experience of the biomedical industry.
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