Scott Tanner and colleagues, University of Toronto, Canada, have found a way to measure the action and function of drug candidates on human cells, including the response of individual cells, more quickly and on a larger scale than current techniques.
The mass cytometry instrument the team developed can simultaneously measure up to 100 biomarkers in a single cell, at 1000 cells per second. It does this by combining atomic mass spectrometry and flow cytometry. Using this technique, the team could correctly categorize over a dozen different immune cell types and show how the internal processes differed from one cell type to the next.
These single-cell analyses provide a system-wide view of immune signaling in healthy cells, against which drug action and disease can be compared for mechanistic studies and pharmacologic intervention, and could help explain how cells become diseased.
Image credit: Sergey Vorobiev, DVS Sciences Inc.
- Single-Cell Mass Cytometry of Differential Immune and Drug Responses Across a Human Hematopoietic Continuum
S. C. Bendall, E. F. Simonds, P. Qiu, E.-a. D. Amir, P. O. Krutzik et al.,
Science 2011, 332(6030), 687-696.