Flow Cytometry Year in Review: Key Changes To Know

Here we are, at the end of an eventful year 2021. But with the promise of a new year 2022 to come. It has been a long year, filled with ups and downs. It is always good to reflect on the past year as we move to the future. 

In Memoriam

Sir Isaac Newton wrote “If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” In the past year, we have lost some giants of our field including Zbigniew Darzynkiwicz, who contributed much in the areas of cell cycle analysis and apoptosis. Howard Shapiro, known for his musical talent and the amazing Practical Flow Cytometry. And Graeme Chapman, who  trained many scientists and was especially active in the Australian flow cytometry community.

They were scholars, teachers, and researchers always willing to help others. Our field is a little less bright with their loss. 

Mergers And Acquisitions

Mergers and Acquisitions  dominated the cytometry world in this past year. PerkinElmer has now decided to get into the cytometry market in a big way. They have acquired Nexcelom Bioscience, makers of cell counters and the Amnis Imagestream as well as acquired BioLegend

Cytek Bioscience acquired Tonbo Bioscience, adding antibody to their portfolio as well. Insightful Science continued their acquisition of cytometry data analysis companies with the acquisition of De Novo Software the, makers of FCS Express.

Finally, while this was announced on 31 December 2020, I am including it in this blog, ThermoFisher Scientific acquired Phitonex and their fluorescent dye technology. 

Cell Sorters In High Demand

With the continued interest in techniques such as single-cell ‘omics, cell sorting continues to be an important and highly demanded application in the field. This past year saw the introduction of several new cell sorters to the market. 

The first, the Cytek Aurora CS, takes advantage of spectral cytometry, allowing researchers to use spectral cytometry so that they would not have to modify their panels if they want to sort. Cytek also announced that they had shipped their 1000th unit in November. 

The second cell sorter comes to us from Beckman-Coulter. The CytoFLEX SRT is based on the popular CytoFLEX technology. NanoCellect, makers of the microfluidics WOLF sorter, released the WOLF G2 system, expanding the number of fluorochromes that can be used on this platform. 

In 2019, Cytometry A introduced a mini-review called the ‘Phenotype Reports’, which was designed to help researchers with a reference to how to identify different cell types. Well, the journal devoted their March issue to highlighting and summarizing these reports. It’s a great reference to help understand which markers should be used to identify different subsets. Article dealing with the issues that some cyanine dyes can bind to monocytes was published. Since many tandems contain a cyanine dye as part of the tandem pair, this is a good reference to review as you design panels. 

Concluding Remarks 

The International Society for the Advancement of Cytometry (ISAC) brought us a very successful virtual meeting this year, and looks forward to hosting a face to face meeting in June, 2022. The society also launched the SRL Recognition Program, with the inaugural applications due December 31st. Most recently, the membership approved a new tiered membership which you can read about here

As we enter 2022, I would end with this toast for the new year. “It is the time to lift your vision and remove the clouds from the sky of hope! Yes, it is the happy New Year, It’s the time to celebrate. Happy new year to my colleagues near and far!” I hope to meet many of you in Philadelphia at Cyto2022. 

To learn more about important control measures for your flow cytometry lab, and to get access to all of our advanced materials including 20 training videos, presentations, workbooks, and private group membership, get on the Flow Cytometry Mastery Class wait list.

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Tim Bushnell, PhD
Tim Bushnell, PhD

Tim Bushnell holds a PhD in Biology from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a co-founder of—and didactic mind behind—ExCyte, the world’s leading flow cytometry training company, which organization boasts a veritable library of in-the-lab resources on sequencing, microscopy, and related topics in the life sciences.

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