The Cytometric Future: It Ain’t Necessarily Flow!
Initial approaches to cytometry for classifying and characterizing cells were based on microscopy; it was necessary to collect relatively high-resolution images of cells because only a few specific reagents usable for cell identification were available. Although flow cytometry, now the dominant cytometric technology, typically utilizes lenses similar to microscope lenses for light collection, improved, more quantitative reagents allow the necessary information to be acquired in the form of whole-cell measurements of the intensities of light transmission, scattering, and/or fluorescence.
Much of the cost and complexity of both automated microscopes and flow cytometers arises from the necessity for them to measure one cell at a time. Recent developments in digital camera technology now offer an alternative in which one or more low-magnification, low-resolution images are made of a wide field containing many cells, using inexpensive light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for illumination. Minimalist widefield imaging cytometers can provide a smaller, less complex, and substantially less expensive alternative to flow cytometry, critical in systems intended for in resource-poor areas. Minimalism is, likewise, a good philosophy in developing instrumentation and methodology for both clinical and large-scale research use; it simplifies quality assurance and compliance with regulatory requirements, as well as reduces capital outlays, material costs, and personnel training requirements. Also, importantly, it yields “greener” technology.
Key wordsMinimalist cytometry Widefield fluorescence imaging Light-emitting diodes Digital cameras Flow cytometry
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