A new Dimension in Disease Diagnosis and Management.
Flow cytometry is the most practiced member of a family of technologies known variously as automated, analytical, or quantitative cytology. As the
term implies, flow Cytometery is the measurement (-metry) of cellular (cyto-) properties as they are moving in a fluid stream (flow), past a
stationary set of detectors. Flow cytometry is the only technique capable of quantitative measurements of multiple features of individual cells in
a rapid manner.
Flow cytometry is a means of measuring certain physical and chemical characteristics of cells or particles as they travel in suspension one by one
past a sensing point. In one way, flow cytometers can be considered to be specialized fluorescence microscopes. One could measure physical
characteristics such as cell size, shape and internal complexity and, of course, any cell component or function that can be detected by a
fluorescent compound can be examined.
It is a rapid method for measuring the fluorescence and light scattering of individual cells in large numbers. By labeling the cells with
fluorescent molecules that bind with high specificity to one particular cellular constituent, it is possible to measure the contents of the
constituent. Such a fluorescent tag may be either a dye molecule with a high binding-specificity for the particular component to be measured or a
fluorescence-conjugated antibody. The light scattering of the cells gives information on their size and to some extent also on shape and structure.
This marvelous technical accomplishment is a convergence of computer science, laser development, electronics, hydrodynamic focusing and ink-jet
technology, optics and light detection, monoclonal antibodies, and DNA analysis. The flow cytometer is capable of rapid, quantitative, multiparameter
analysis of heterogeneous cell populations on a cell-by-cell basis (single cell analysis).