Flow cytometry is used when researchers are trying to determine the single properties of any one cell. In order to do this, flow cytometers are used. Flow cytometers are used to recognize these properties and they are automated tools that can pick up these individual properties one at a time.
Flow cytometers can detect things such as the size of a cell, the granularity of a cell, how much DNA is in one cell, the genes that are present in a cell, the amount of proteins that are in a cell, and the amount of surface receptors in cells.
Flow cytometers do their job by taking in a group of single, unclumped cells and pass them, one by one, by a laser beam. As each cell passes through the beam, fluorescent lights will scatter and show up on the cell. Because an entire cell will show as being fluorescent when passed through a beam, certain areas of the cell must be lit up at a much greater intensity in order for that particular component to be recognized and recorded.
Purposes of Flow Cytometry
Flow cytometry is used mostly for research and analytical purposes. The process helps researchers and scientists to understand things such as certain diseases better. Instances of flow cytometry show up quite often in research and medical journals as helping researchers in a specific study. When flow cytometry is used for this purpose, the sample cells that are used are usually discarded afterwards.
Other instances of flow cytometry are done for preparative purposes. In these instances, living cells will be divided into different containers, depending on their properties, to be used in future studies.