Flow Cytometry is a method for analyzing populations of cells. Most flow cytometers used today utilize a laminar flow of fluid into which cells are introduced. The laminar flow creates a high speed stream of cells going single file past a laser beam. The laser can excite fluorescent dyes that have been used to mark various molecules or physiological functions of the cells. The use of dyes with different fluorescence characteristics, multiple lasers and multiple photo detectors allows the instrument to measure many characteristics of each cell simultaneously. The dyes are incorporated into antibodies which in turn target specific antigens on the surface of the cell or inside the cell in the
cytoplasm or nucleus. There are an ever growing number of clinical and research applications for these instruments.
Leukemias and Lymphomas are diseases with the cells not maturing and in their early stages (blasts) which eventually multiply and occupy more space, thus suppressing other cells and resulting in deficiency of their functions. As a result, the organs will lose their functions and will be occupied with functionless blasts.
Blasts are early stage of the cells and look similar to each other (Fig.1) and this makes it difficult to distinguish between them morphologically regardless of the experience of the examiner.
Histochemical stais were developed and used in the past, where a dye is incorporated into an antibody and other chemicals which when applied to a certain tissue will give a specific color to specific cell type.
There are limitations to this technique regarding cost, efficacy, and turn-around time. We can only use one or two colors at a time. In Flow cytometry we can test for many antigens at the same time.
Fig.3 Dyes were developed and incorporated into antibodies and other chemicals which will give specific colors to specific cells.
The cell contains many antigens (specific proteins) on the surface and inside the cell. By mapping those antigens in a particular cell, we can determine with great accuracy the type of the cell.
This is particularly important nowadays since modern cancer treatment regimens are targeting specific cells with specific configuration and that is the role of molecular biology.
Flowcytometers can detect so many antigens on the cells in one tube and in viagraonline few seconds. With accurate analysis we can specifically identify those cells and treat the disease with high specificity and less toxicity. In our facility in Colfax Oncology we use the most recent technology in Flow cytometry to diagnose our cases quickly and accurately.