Flow cytometry is a technology that provides rapid multi-parametric analysis of single cells in solution. It has a wide range of applications allowing unprecedented detail in immunology, haematology and cell biology studies.
“Flow cytometry allowed us to perform multiparametric analysis of blood extracellular vesicles at single level and high sensitivity, which would have been really difficult to measure with other traditional techniques”, explains Rosa Suades, post-doctoral researcher at the Molecular Pathology and Therapeutic of Ischaemic and Atherothrombotic Diseases group. Suades, who participates in the European project COVIRNA, was willing to characterise and quantify specific subpopulations of extracellular vesicles in COVID-19 patients and with different clinical severity.
On the other hand, cell sorters are able to isolate one or more cell populations from the pool. As an example, in the framework of a FIS and “La Marató” project, senior postdoctoral researcher at Neuromuscular Diseases group, Xavier Suárez-Calvet, needed to isolate and purify a small cell population from the skeletal muscle in mice, so they could functionally analyse them in vitro later.
“The large number and combination of markers needed to identify these cells made the use of the cell sorter essential”, says Suárez-Calvet. “This technology allowed us to have viable and highly pure cell cultures from an enzymatically dissociated tissue”, concludes the researcher.
A combination of state-of-the-art technology and technical expertise
The Flow Cytometry Core Facility at IIB Sant Pau offers support, hands-on service and tailored training sessions to users inside and outside the institute. From experimental design to data analysis, the team provides comprehensive service to the users and is constantly evolving to meet researchers’ specific needs.
The facility hosts six flow cytometers, one cell sorter, an Automacs Pro and a MAGPIX (Luminex). This state-of-the-art equipment together with the technical expertise of the staff facilitate researchers to design and develop efficient and reliable flow cytometric assays.
“Lia and Marta contribution has been crucial to help us developing the micronucleus assay”, states María José Ramírez, CIBERER researcher at the Cancer Predisposition and DNA Repair Syndromes group. “Our group was interested in chromosome fragility, an essential biomarker for Fanconi anemia and flow cytometry allowed us to advance in our research more quickly and effectively”.