FCM is a method for counting, analyzing, and sorting particles, e.g., cells in a single cell suspension by their light-absorbing or fluorescing properties. Flow cytometry permits assessment of physical (cell size, shape, and internal complexity), chemical (expression of proteins and other molecules), and biological (metabolic pathways, e.g., calcium ion flux) attributes of single cells in suspension (FACS).
Applications in cancer
There are three essential components of a flow cytometer: fluidics, optics, and electronics. Fluidics: A single cell suspension in a highly controlled fluid stream is forced through a nozzle to induced laminar flow at a high flow rate (meters/second). A higher-pressure sheath fluid stream surrounds the sample in isotonic fluid and the cells are examined (interrogated) at a point by the excitation light, usually a laser beam. Optics: A laser light source generates a monochromatic light beam...