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Zurich – Flow cytometry is used to determine the type and properties of cells. A research group from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) has now improved this technology. Their approach is more rapid and precise.

Conventional flow cytometres can recognise the size, shape, structure and colour of cells by measuring scattered light and fluorescence when cells flow through a laser beam, explained the ETH in a statement.

Standard devices reliably measure between 100 and 20,000 cells per second. Another approach used to determine cell properties uses microfluidic flow cytometres, which reliably image only up to 4,000 cells per second.

A research group led by Andrew deMello, ETH Professor of Biochemical Engineering, has now developed a new approach that can measure up to 50,000 cells per second. It deploys the advantages of optical and microfluidic imaging methods.  

With the researchers’ cytometry platform, many cells flow in a stream of microfluids through parallel loops, which allows the camera to record large numbers of cells with precision. Stroboscopic illumination, or a sequence of still images, captures the cells.   

“We are developing technologies to help chemists, biologists and medical specialists carry out new research,” commented deMello in the statement.

The researchers expect the platform to be more reliable and faster than conventional devices, as well as simpler and cheaper to use. 

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