Monday, October 1, 2007

GLIIFCA 2007 Wrap-up

Another informative and successful meeting of the Great Lakes International Imaging and Flow Cytometry Association (GLIIFCA) can be sent to the history books.  UCFlow's poster on our new tools for remote management/troubleshooting/teaching of satellite facility instruments was a hit.  We got lots of traffic, and many laboratories will be trying out the methods soon.  If we get word back, we'll send out an update.

As far as tech that was presented, there wasn't too much "cutting-edge" stuff.  No new instruments (except for the MoFlo XDP, which has been out for a few months now).  The one thing that was new to me at least, was Invitrogen's Click-IT Edu kit for looking at s-phase without the harsh denaturing step associated with BrdU staining.  This seems like a really good alternative to BrdU or tritiated thymidine incorporation.  It basically uses a Uracil analog similar to BrdU and the resulting fluorescence can be pretty much any of the Invitrogen flavors (Alexa Dyes, Pac Blue, etc...) making multiparametric analysis much easier.  It's nearly $9/test (OUCH!!!), but may be worth it, especially if you're doing some complex multicolor stuff.  

I got a chance to check out the Accuri C6 flow cytometer (www.accuricytometer.com).  I wasn't that impressed.  Basically, it's suppose to be a routine, 4-color (FITC, PE, PerCP, APC), 2 laser (488nm, 635nm) basic flow cytometer that costs around $30K.  The price may be right for lots of people, but my major concern is sensitivity.  I think most people who buy this won't use it as it's suppose to be used (a routine, quick, screening tool for well established bright antibodies).  They'll try to run everything on it, and be disappointed.   The gold standard spec, FITC MESF detection threshold is pretty high (<750mesf) compared to a Calibur (<250MESF)

Lastly, there seems to be a paradigm-shift trying to emerge in the analysis of flow cytometry data.  The problem this shift is attempting to solve is firstly, the subjectivity involved in the gating process, and secondly, the shear complexity of analyzing an N-color experiment in N dimensions.  The tools (see verity software www.vsh.com or cira discovery www.ciradiscovery.com) attempt to reduce complex data to a few plots that could be understood by a non-cytometry scientist.  The hierarchical bivariate gating strategy currently employed by users may be on its way out if tools like these are developed further, but only time will tell.  My take:  It's gonna be tough to pull people away from their dot plots and polygons, and I can really only see this catching on in the pharma sector where high throughput is a necessity.  It may be overkill for the run-of-the-mill academic scientist, but who knows, it will definitely be an educational process.