Flow cytometry is used to isolate and quantify specific cell populations and provide quantitative information pertaining to viability, DNA content, mitotic activity and protein expression patterns of specific cell types. Recent advances have allowed for the purification of viable populations of neural stem cells, neural crest cells and post-mitotic neurons using flow cytometry. QBI’s Flow Cytometry Facility has a technological capacity that is rivalled by few institutes in the world and managed by specialised staff who are developing new applications and methodologies.

In 2006 a $1.11 million grant from the ACRF funded a new tumour-cell testing facility that is being used to develop more effective treatments for brain cancer. The centre is the world’s first automated high-throughput screening facility designed for testing and identifying stem cells derived from human brain tumours.

The facility currently comprises the following equipment:

  • Cytopeia Influx Cell Sorter: The most advanced cell sorting flow cytometer in the suite of instruments, currently configured with five lasers (UV, 407, 488, 561, 633nm) and 16 detectors all housed in a Class II certified laminar flow cabinet. This instrument has multi-well plate handling capability for both sample acquisition and deposition making it ideally suited to screening applications of novel compounds on neural cells and selection of subsequent responding cells.
  • BD FACSAria Cell Sorter: This high capacity cell sorter is fitted with 14 fluorescence detectors, multi-well plate cell deposition option and aerosol management is ideally placed to fulfil the research needs of neuroscientists requiring more routine multi-parametric cell sorting.
  • BD FACS Vantage SE DiVa Cell Sorter: This comprises a three-laser, eight fluorescence detector system capable of sorting for routine applications such as surface markers and DNA binding dyes. It also allows novel particle separations utilising nozzles with diameters up to 400 μm. These large nozzles facilitate the sorting of various neural cell populations that are, in some cases, twice as large as those blood cell types that are typically sorted.
  • BD LSR II: Analysing flow cytometer that can simultaneously detect as many as 18 fluorochromes, which are excited from five individual lasers (UV, 407, 488, 561, 633nm). This instrument increases QBI’s analytical capabilities by providing additional excitation wavelengths and making available some of the sorter time that is currently dedicated to analysis.
  • Amnis Image Stream System: A new generation instrument that combines the visual power of microscopy and the statistical rigor of flow cytometry in a single bench-top platform. The Amnis Image Stream System provides a unique bridging technology between traditional flow cytometric techniques and imaging technologies. The instrument facilitates QBI’s research efforts in understanding the fundamental characteristics of neural cells. The ‘high content’ nature of the data, which links morphological features to fluorescence profiles, enables new insights in these research areas.

For further information on this facility please contact Virginia Nink.