Flow Cytometry: Understanding How the Technology Is Used Today

Expanding on our previous Medical Lab Automation Machines Part 2, we dive into flow cytometry technology.

Flow Cytometry is a technical term that is used to describe a specialized laboratory test that uses lasers to quickly yet accurately characterize both physical and chemical traits of life cells and particles as they are suspended in a liquid solution medium.

Essentially the lasers impact the particulate within the medium and form a distinct photo and/or fluorescent pattern as the light reacts with the particulate. As a result, a distinctive pattern of signals is created, and a large amount of data are captured from such impacts. This data is then analyzed to determine the characteristics of the particulate in the suspension.

Flow Cytometry

The underlying technology behind this process has been around for a few decades, in various analog, and manual forms. However, advances in computational power and signal analysis techniques have allowed for a more detailed and thorough study of the particulate within the medium as the capacity to process large amounts of data has increased exponentially.

To this end, flow cytometry has become an efficient and extremely valuable laboratory technique with a wide range of applications.

Flow Cytometry in Use Today

This versatile tool is used in a diverse range of fields including immunology, virology, molecular biology, cancer biology, and infectious disease monitoring. Flow cytometry is widely used within medicine and diagnostics because it is effective at counting and characterizing critical cellular populations such as those found in living human tissues such as tumors. 

It is also used to study the immune system’s response to infectious diseases because it can dissociate or separate individual cells and characterize each based on their type. This basically means, among other things, that turmeric cells can be distinguished from blood and bone marrow cells.

As you can imagine, this is an incredibly useful tool that can provide insights into once invisible cellular activity. This is the business of flow cytometry machines, in simplest terms.

Flow Cytometry Machines, Components, and Manufacturers

Flow Cytometry machines vary greatly in size. The smaller units can sit on a laboratory or desk table and aren’t much larger than a microwave while the bigger units would sit on the floor of a laboratory like a stationary appliance.

However, the differences are mostly a matter of scale, as the same types of components comprise each machine. Essentially, flow cytometry machines require various machine mechanisms to facilitate linear motion with extreme precision. This functionality is typically accomplished via components such as linear guides, lead screws, timing pulleys, and/or belts.

Some notable manufacturers of flow cytometry equipment are BD, Thermo-Fisher, Beckman Coulter, and Bio-Rad.

MISUMI configurable components power dozens of specialized medical laboratory equipment including the following critical flow cytometry machine components:

Fundamentally this is because we understand the complex needs of the medical and lab automation industry. Additionally, we also offer automated process control components from high-quality, trusted manufacturers such as SMC, Parker, THK, and Mitsubishi Electric.

For more information, visit our dedicated industry page here.

About the Author

Geoffrey Green

Geoffrey Green is currently an industry segment manager for the Medical Industry at MISUMI. His role involves developing strategies for how MISUMI's offering of products can be utilized in providing solutions for medical automation. Prior to his role as industry segment manager, Geoffrey worked as a sales engineer at MISUMI. In his sales role, he served the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and focused entirely in the medical industry. During this 4 year period, Geoffrey became an expert assisting customers with their medical automation designs. Before taking on his roles at MISUMI, Geoffrey has worked in the plastic bearing, robotics, and solar industries and received his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado.

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