Expert view: Challenges in flow cytometry
Flow cytometry is a powerful and flexible technology that delivers high content information from single cells and particles. Flow cytometry lends itself to a wide variety of applications, but traditional flow cytometry technologies are not widely adopted in the drug discovery industry due to limited throughput, slow sampling speeds and the need for large sample volumes.
As the drug development field tackles the complexities of developing the next generation of therapeutics, a challenge for the fl ow cytometry industry is to leverage their technologies to deliver high throughput content and to analyse and visualise the large datasets generated during drug development studies.
The need for more physiologically relevant cell‑based assays and complex multi‑cell disease models has become acute as researchers attempt to redirect the immune system to fight diseases like cancer. Immuno-phenotyping and tracking critical primary cell subpopulations, along with a functional assessment of cell health, activation, killing potential and cytokine profiling has become routine, high capacity need in high impact areas from checkpoint inhibitors to CAR-Ts. Severe constraints on both primary cell availability and long‑term viability are driving the desire to miniaturise assays and compress analysis workflows to do more with less and get the answers as soon as possible.
Sartorius is addressing the need with the Intellicyt® iQue Screener PLUS platform to perform high throughput, miniaturised and multiplexed suspension cell and bead assays. Optimised immune cell phenotyping and function assay kits collapse the workflows of multiple tube assays into single microplate well formats, conserving valuable cell samples. Rapid sampling speeds with real‑time analysis and visualisation of results provide actionable answers in minutes per plate, not hours or days.
The challenge for the flow cytometry industry is clear. Continue to improve translational tools to solve real‑world problems by increasing the physiological relevance and speed of high content data for drug discovery.