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Flow Cytometry

The main facility in the School is situated in the Department of Pathology. There are also facilities in some institutes.


What is Flow Cytometry?

Flow cytometry is a generic name for techniques which involve the analysis and/or separation of particles in a flowing stream by quantification of optical parameters. As widely practised today this routinely uses suspensions of living or fixed cells which are streamed past one or more laser illumination intercepts from which a variety of light scattering and fluorescence parameters are detected by means of photomultiplier tubes (or photodiodes). Although these techniques are most widely used in mammalian biology, they can be applied to almost any particle with useful optical properties including bacteria, viruses, sub-cellular organelles and artificial particles, for example polystyrene beads bearing ligands or antibodies.

The range of commercially available machines includes analytical cytometers capable of evaluating 10+ optical parameters of 50,000 cells in a few seconds or quantitating the level of 10 different cytokines simultaneously.

History of Flow Cytometry in the Department of Pathology

Pathology in Cambridge was one of the first departments in the UK to acquire a flow cytometer capable of separating cells when Alan Munro purchased an Ortho 50-H in 1979. The department has maintained a flow cytometry facility since that time and has thereby acquired extensive experience of operating a range of machines and managing a flow cytometry facility. We currently have a DakoCytomation MoFlo MLS high-speed cell sorter, a BectonDickinson FACScan analyser, a DakoCytomation Cyan ADP MLE analyser and Cytek DxP8 analyser.

Training courses


The Mid Anglia Cytometry Club held a half-day course entitled "Basic Flow Cytometry". As part of this, Nick Holmes gave a presentation on Data Analysis - you can see a slightly amended version of this presentation on the left (as a PowerPointShow)