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CyTOF® / Mass Cytometry

CyTOF® (Cytometry by Time-of-Flight) a.k.a. Mass Cytometry is a transformative, proteomics technology enabling the simultaneous detection of up to 50 cell surface or intra-cellular biomarkers at a single cell resolution.

High parameter CyTOF assays enable acquisition of large amounts of immunologic data from precious, limited sample sizes to better understand biological systems, response to therapy and signatures of disease.

Traditional flow cytometry is typically limited to the detection of 12 parameters per sample due to overlapping emission spectra of the fluorochromes used to label antibodies. Mass Cytometry overcomes this limitation because antibodies are labelled with lanthanide metal isotopes and separated based on their mass with detection via time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

Highly standardized and reproducible analysis of clinical samples with high parameter CyTOF® assays allows our clients to:

Comprehensively characterize immune cell activation and inhibition
Identify predictive biomarkers for treatment stratification
Reveal treatment changes reflective of therapeutic engagement
CyTOF® supports analysis of various sample types, including whole blood, PBMCs, tumor tissues and CAR-T cell products.


Use of CyTOF / Mass Cytometry in Clinical Trials

By the end of 2021 CyTOF® technology had been adopted for 179 clinical research trials and the rate of adoption is rapidly increasing.

Key drivers include:

  • 50 + unique markers per panel maximize information from precious patient samples 
  • Cells stained with metal-tagged antibodies can be frozen, stored and shipped reliably.  More studies demonstrate that CyTOF assays and instruments provide reliable and reproducible results.   
CyTOF in Clinical Trials

Advantages of CyTOF vs Traditional Flow Cytometry

Flow Cytometry is generally limited to 12 parameters per staining panel because the emission spectra of some fluorochromes overlap significantly. Stains must be broken up into groups with redundancy of many of the cell lineage markers in different stains. Flow Cytometry therefore requires large sample sizes for coverage of diverse immune subsets. This is particularly detrimental for tumor biopsies where sample sizes are often limiting. Further, when only a few markers can be analyzed in a single sample, panels must be designed using a priori knowledge of marker expression patterns to characterize cells of interest. If unusual marker expression patterns are encountered, follow-up studies that require time-consuming design and optimization of new panels must be performed, assuming more patient sample is available.

Since more markers can be measured in a single tube using CyTOF, fewer cells are required per experiment compared to traditional Flow Cytometry. High parameter CyTOF panels therefore enable the acquisition of larger amounts of immunologic data from precious, limited sample sizes.


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