Top Flow Cytometry Instrument, Reagent, And Software Trends To Pay Attention To In 2016

From instruments, to reagents, to software there are many flow cytometry innovations to pay attention to this year.

These are just a few highlights of the great things coming your way in 2016…

I. Instruments

The mid-range cytometry market is becoming crowded with a host of new instruments on the market.

Of those, we’ve had the chance to try the Novocyte, which is a very easy to use instrument built with the Accuri mindset—fixed voltage PMTs. This, coupled with easy to use software, makes it a breeze to get a researcher up and running.

We noticed some issues in the far red channel of the Novocyte, but we’ve been told this is being resolved.

I’m looking forward to testing out the redesigned Attune NxT instrument from ThermoFisher (previously Invitrogen). The acoustical focusing on this instrument makes it very intriguing for rare event analysis, as you can run faster with less spread of the data.

Moving to the higher end platforms—multidimensional data is very exciting to us. The new Helios (CyTOF III) system, from what we’ve read, is solid.

It looks like Fluidigm has been able to take what was learned from CyTOF I and CyTOF II to improve the system all around, including instrument stability, cell recovery, operator ease-of-use and more.

Of course, the trade-in price tag is a bit of a shock for those with the earlier generation instruments. We hope Fluidigm doesn’t stop supporting the earlier instruments, and we will miss the all-orange shell of the earlier CyTOF’s as well.

The Yeti is to be considered for those who want more detectors. The Yeti has 28 fluorescent detectors but maintains a small footprint.

Then there is also the BD X20 instrument, which allows for up to 20 fluorescent parameters, and (if you have the money)—there is the X50 instrument.

Finally, there is also the Sony SP6800. This spectral analyzer changes the way researchers examine the data, using spectral unmixing that allows for very closely related dyes to be distinguished.

II. Reagents

Thermo-Fisher recently acquired Affymetrix, bringing eBioscience into their family. We look forward to seeing how this acquisition affects the flow cytometry reagent market.

In terms of reagent trends, dyes are still very popular. More and more fluorescent tags are making choices for panel design easier. The range of “Brilliant” dyes continues to expand and offer new, brighter choices for the end-user.

Now, with Brilliant UV dyes, the UV laser can be used for more than just side populations and calcium flux experiments.

BioLegend has been expanding their product lineup. There is also a lot of excitement with the LEGENDPlex assay kits. Since these kits can be run on any instrument, they can be readily integrated into current workflows.

We enjoy using magnetic beads for depletion experiments before cell sorting, and we are happy to see BioLegend go-to-market with their new MojoSort product. We’ve found that BioLegend really has a good marketing team, especially when it comes to naming their new products (example, MitoSpy).

Another reagent trend to keep your eyes on this year includes the release of validated antibodies for MaxPar labeling for use on the CyTOF. If you are using a CyTOF, knowing which reagents have been validated will save you a lot of time and resources.

III. Software

We enjoy watching and benefiting from the continued development of tools to assist in polychromatic panel design, including Chromocyte, Fluorish, and Flourofinder.

Each of these tools follow a similar path for designing the panel, and share some common features including:

  •       Allowing you to design for your instrument
  •       Searching vendor databases for reagents that fit your needs
  •       Saving and exporting the panel to share

The first two bullet points above are the most important. After all, what good is building the best panel if you can’t run it on your instrument? With the above tools, you can build a solid antibody panel in minutes. Of course, you still have to apply your knowledge of polychromatic panel design and your instrument to build the right panel, but the hard part of searching is now easy.

In particular, Chromocyte provides a wealth of information beyond just providing researchers with a panel design tool. The website covers everything from meetings and training courses, to integrated search engines for various flow related products, to an online forum for finding more information and getting help.

When it comes to analytical software, there is a lot of continued development with the various data analysis software packages. FlowJo continues their parallel development of VX and Version 9. We are still fans of Version 9, especially with the added ability to compute the spillover spreading matrix of a flow cytometry experiment. The FlowJo SSM is another tool that can be used to evaluate and monitor the performance of polychromatic panels and instruments.

There are some interesting PC-only software packages as well. We’ve always liked the intuitive feel of FCS Express, and the add-ons that the FCS Express team offers, such as the ability to directly import experiments from DIVA. FCS Express has come a long way over the years, especially in terms of the development of their Image Analysis package. We’ve also heard positive reports of the Kaluza data analysis software package, which is also highly intuitive.

The team at Inivai continues to provide novel solutions with their Logic platform. From their lead analysis package FlowLogic, they have developed a series of other tools that make flow cytometry analysis, as well as graphing and annotating metadata and other information seamless.

What do you think of our list?

To learn more about getting your flow cytometry data published and to get access to all of our advanced materials including 20 training videos, presentations, workbooks, and private group membership, get on the Expert Cytometry wait list.

Join Expert Cytometry's Mastery Class
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.

Similar Articles

The Power Of Spectral Viewers And Their Use In Full Spectrum Flow Cytometry

The Power Of Spectral Viewers And Their Use In Full Spectrum Flow Cytometry

By: Tim Bushnell, PhD

What photon from yonder fluorochrome breaks?  It is … umm… hmmm. Let me see. Excitation off a 561 nm laser, with an emission maximum of 692 nm. I’m sure if Shakespeare was a flow cytometrist, he might have written that very scene. But the play is lost in time. However, since the protagonist had difficulty determining what fluorochrome was emitting photons, let’s consider how this could be figured out. In my opinion, one of the handiest flow cytometry tools is the spectral viewer. This tool helps visualize the excitation and emission profile of different fluorochromes, as well as allowing you…

3 Must-Have High-Dimensional Flow Cytometry Controls

3 Must-Have High-Dimensional Flow Cytometry Controls

By: Tim Bushnell, PhD

Developments such as the recent upgrade to the Cytobank analysis platform and the creation of new packages such as Immunocluster are reducing the computational expertise needed to work with high-dimensional flow cytometry datasets. Whether you are a researcher in academia, industry, or government, you may want to take advantage of the reduced barrier to entry to apply high-dimensional flow cytometry in your work. However, you’ll need the right experimental design to access the new transformative insights available through these approaches and avoid wasting the considerable time and money required for performing them. As with all experiments, a good design begins…

The Fluorochrome Less Excited: How To Build A Flow Cytometry Antibody Panel

The Fluorochrome Less Excited: How To Build A Flow Cytometry Antibody Panel

By: Tim Bushnell, PhD

Fluorochrome, antibodies and detectors are important. The journey of a thousand cells starts with a good fluorescent panel. The polychromatic panel is the combination of antibodies and fluorochromes. These will be used during the experiment to answer the biological question of interest. When you only need a few targets, the creation of the panel is relatively straightforward. It’s only when you start to get into more complex panels with multiple fluorochromes that overlap in excitation and emission gets more interesting.  FLUOROCHROMES Both full spectrum and traditional fluorescent flow cytometry rely on measuring the emission of the fluorochromes that are attached…

Flow Cytometry Year in Review: Key Changes To Know

Flow Cytometry Year in Review: Key Changes To Know

By: Meerambika Mishra

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…

What Star Trek Taught Me About Flow Cytometry

What Star Trek Taught Me About Flow Cytometry

By: Tim Bushnell, PhD

It is no secret that I am a very big fan of the Star Trek franchise. There are many good episodes and lessons explored in the 813+ episodes, 12 movies (and counting). Don’t worry, this blog is not going to review all 813, or even 5 of them. Instead, some of the lessons I have taken away from the show that have applicability to science and flow cytometry.  “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.”  (ST:TNG season 5, episode 2) This is probably one of my favorite episodes, which involves Picard and an alien trying to establish a common ground and learn…

5 Flow Cytometry Strategies That Sun Tzu Taught Me

5 Flow Cytometry Strategies That Sun Tzu Taught Me

By: Tim Bushnell, PhD

Sun Tzu was a Chinese general and philosopher. His most famous writing is ‘The Art of War’, and has been studied by generals and CEOs, to glean ideas and strategies to help their missions. I was recently rereading this work and thought to myself if any of Sun Tzu’s lessons could apply to flow cytometry.  So I have identified 5 points that I think lend themselves to thinking about flow cytometry.  “Quickness is the essence of the war.” In flow cytometry, speed is of the essence. The longer the cells are out of their natural environment, the less happy they…

A Basic Guide To Flow Cytometry (3 Foundational Concepts)

A Basic Guide To Flow Cytometry (3 Foundational Concepts)

By: Meerambika Mishra

Mastering foundational concepts are imperative for successfully using any technique or system.  Robert Heinlein introduced the term ‘Grok’  in his novel Stranger in a Strange Land. Ever since then it has made its way into popular culture. To Grok something is to understand it intuitively, fully. As a cytometrist, there are several key concepts that you must grok to be successful in your career. These foundational concepts are the key tools that we use day in and day out to identify and characterize our cells of interest.  Cells Flow cytometry measures biological processes at the whole cell level. To do…

Which Fluorophores To Use For Your Microscopy Experiment

Which Fluorophores To Use For Your Microscopy Experiment

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

Fluorophore selection is important. I have often been asked by my facility users which fluorophore is best suited for their experiments. The answer to this is mostly dependent on whether they are using a widefield microscope with set excitation/emission cubes or a laser based system that lets you select the laser and the emission window. Once you have narrowed down which fluorophores you can excite and collect the correct emission, you can further refine the specific fluorophore that is best for your experiment.  In this blog  we will discuss how to determine what can work with your microscope, and how…

4 No Cost Ways To Improve Your Microscopy Image Quality

4 No Cost Ways To Improve Your Microscopy Image Quality

By: Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

Image quality is critical for accurate and reproducible data. Many people get stuck on the magnification of the objective or on using a confocal instead of a widefield microscope. There are several other factors that affect the image quality such as the numerical aperture of the objective, the signal-to-noise ratio of the system, or the brightness of the sample.  Numerical aperture is the ability of an objective to collect light from a sample, but it contributes to two key formulas that will affect your image quality. The first is the theoretical resolution of the objective. It is expressed with the…

Top Technical Training eBooks

Get the Advanced Microscopy eBook

Get the Advanced Microscopy eBook

Heather Brown-Harding, PhD

Learn the best practices and advanced techniques across the diverse fields of microscopy, including instrumentation, experimental setup, image analysis, figure preparation, and more.

Get The Free Modern Flow Cytometry eBook

Get The Free Modern Flow Cytometry eBook

Tim Bushnell, PhD

Learn the best practices of flow cytometry experimentation, data analysis, figure preparation, antibody panel design, instrumentation and more.

Get The Free 4-10 Compensation eBook

Get The Free 4-10 Compensation eBook

Tim Bushnell, PhD

Advanced 4-10 Color Compensation, Learn strategies for designing advanced antibody compensation panels and how to use your compensation matrix to analyze your experimental data.