What is Flow Cytometry and FACS?
Flow cytometry is the measuring (metry) of cells (cyto) as they flow (cells in motion) past a detecting device. The technique of flow cytometry is used to evaluate cells for a number of functions, such as cell counting, phenotyping, cell cycle analysis, and viability.
A flow cytometer uses lasers to create light, which is subsequently dispersed by the sample’s cells, recorded by detectors, and converted into signals for analysis and measurement.
Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) is a technique to purify specific cell populations based on phenotypes detected by flow cytometry. It analyzes a population of cells on a cell-by-cell basis, a critical capability for today’s researchers and clinicians who are looking for the very few cells among the many cells in a sample (like finding needles in a haystack) that will enable them to study a disease state or biological process. Second, flow cytometry is extraordinarily rapid. Routine sample analysis rates can range up to 10,000 cells per second—an incredible advancement over historical methods of visually examining and counting cells. Finally, flow cytometry has the capacity to simultaneously measure multiple parameters (multiplexing) of single cells. Multiplexing allows researchers and clinicians to gather more information from a single sample faster than ever before. These capabilities have made flow cytometry a powerful tool with multiple applications for researchers and clinicians alike. – BD Biosciences