The UF Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research brings together biotechnology experts and instruments to serve the efforts of researchers across campus. The ICBR Cytometry Core is under the supervision of Andria Doty, Ph.D., and is one of seven existing core groups within the ICBR. The Cytometry Core is a valuable asset for UF Health Cancer Center researchers requiring high-end flow instrumentation in support of ongoing cancer research. Cancer research scientists often utilize flow cytometry in basic, translational, and clinical research activities aimed at developing new medicines and treatments for cancer.
UFHCC Director Jonathan Licht, M.D., recently helped to enable two significant and major upgrades to existing instrumentation in the Cytometry Core. First was the purchase of a new Becton Dickinson FORTESSA LSR II flow cytometry, an instrument that contains some of the most sophisticated optics, detectors, and analysis software available. The FORTESSA is capable of simultaneously measuring up to 20 different parameters in a single cell at a time. Second, Licht provided funding for the critical upgrade of an ARIA flow cytometer sorter (generously donated to the ICBR by Lung-Ji Chang, Ph.D., in the UF Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology) that will facilitate higher sample throughput as well as quicker sort times.
Flow Cytometry is a powerful technology for evaluating the physical and chemical properties of cells such as size, shape, DNA content or the presence of cell surface markers. For flow cytometry analysis, a heterogeneous mixture of cells is mixed with a buffer solution to create a stream of single cells. A laser is passed through the moving stream of cells and detectors measure the pattern of “light scatter” generated by each cell in the stream, which is directly related to the structural and morphological properties of the cell. Fluorescent dyes and antibodies can also be used for probing cell properties.
As the cells pass through the laser, the dye is “excited” and emits a signal that can be quantified such that the number of cells in a mixed population that have this particular property can be counted. Early flow cytometers were capable of measuring only one cell property or “parameter” at a time within a cell population, but leading-edge technology development now allows highly sophisticated instruments to analyze 20 or more unique parameters in thousands of cells simultaneously at very high speeds and with high accuracy. Fluorescent activated cell sorters are flow cytometers that have the capacity to sort cells with a desired characteristic or property from a mixed cell population. These sorted cells are delivered to a test tube or dish for further study.
This analytical method is particularly useful for studying characteristics unique to cancer cells, especially alterations in signaling pathways that regulate growth and metastasis. Understanding defects in the ability to regulate cell growth is critical for the development of anti-cancer therapies.
Both the FORTESSA and the upgraded ARIA sorter are now online and being actively utilized by UFHCC scientists.
“We are grateful for the continued support of the ICBR FLOW Cytometry Core by Dr. Licht,” said Doty, “The new FORTESSA and ARIA upgrade will ensure UFHCC researchers have access to the leading-edge flow technologies required to support our world class Cancer Center research programs.”
If you are interested in seeing either instrument in action or want any other information about the ICBR or flow cytometry, please contact Doty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 273-8186.