Mass cytometry by time-of-flight: next-generation flow cytometry for multiplexed single cell analysis
Describing every single cell in the human body is one of the greatest challenges of our era. Single-cell technologies aim at mapping multiple properties of millions of single cells, both in health and disease. Flow cytometry is still the most important tool for single cell, targeted, protein-based analysis. However, standard fluorescence-based cytometry, which commonly measures <20 markers/cell, hampers major progress to map the enormous amounts, and often rare, cellular subpopulations that define numerous pathobiological processes. ‘Mass cytometry by time-of-flight’ (CyTOF), a next-generation flow cytometry technology, is revolutionizing single cell analysis. Because CyTOF is uniquely capable of simultaneously resolving up to 135 probes (primarily antibodies, but RNA and DNA coming soon; multiplex mixtures of 50 probes are the current stateof- the-art) on a per-cell basis, it provides an unparalleled ability to phenotypically and functionally profile cells from normal and diseased states, even in small and precious clinical samples. Due to its relatively low cost, CyTOF is suitable for (semi-) high throughput screening purposes, making it highly complementary to other, more expensive single cell technologies. In this application, we propose to integrate a CyTOF instrument (currently unavailable in Belgian academia) in the existing FACS Core (campus Gasthuisberg), thereby providing >300 researchers across KU Leuven with access to state-of-the-art single cell technology.