Tracking lung cancer risk after exposure to fallout from 9/11
Bare also worked with oncology researchers on a unique project tracking a cohort of people who were exposed to debris on the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York .
“During the attack, several toxic chemicals like asbestos were released into the air, exposing first responders and civilians in the surrounding area,” Bare recalled. “Researchers could use cell sorting to isolate individual cells for DNA sequencing. This allowed them to track the progression through life of the people who were exposed to these chemicals during 9/11 and see if those exposed now have a predisposition or additional genetic variation related to lung cancer.”
“Other projects include the classic immunology approach of sorting out immune cells in the blood,” Bare said. “Researchers looked at populations of dendritic cells, or infectious disease researchers would use flow cytometry to sort the lymphocytes in the blood. And lastly there are other researchers looking at more ‘exotic’ cell types that aren’t as often used in flow cytometry like epithelial cells, cartilage, and cardiomyocytes.”
Looking to the future
The global flow cytometry market is expected to grow from 6.3 billion USD in 2021 to 17.3 billion USD in 2030 . This growth is reflected in the growing research that’s anticipated in not only the examples mentioned in this article, but through disease research including HIV-AIDS, biological drug development, and more.
As an instrument provider, we continue seeking to lead the way with cutting-edge technology in flow cytometry, from providing superior sensitivity and resolution, to making it all fit in the smallest possible benchtop packaging. We also strive to make it as intuitive and userfriendly as possible, enabling laboratory staff to get to work right after installation. As great as any technology is, the major challenge is adopting and accepting new workflows. When a new automation solution is installed, many lab managers and staff will spend unnecessary time watching the instrument to ensure it is accurately performing the tasks they previously had to gruellingly and slowly do by hand. For veteran cell sorter operators, learning to trust the software tools and allowing more unaided access to sorting can allow increased output from the labs they serve.
“Academic scientists exist in a sort of paradox. They crave innovation but fear change,” Bare said. “Reluctance to adopt successive generations of a platform can slow research to a glacial pace. Cytometry is no exception but with the miniaturization and ease of use of new cytometers, I’d expect to see a paradigm shift. It will be easier for individual labs to operate them, and use might shift away from centralized shared labs and into individual labs. This could also carry over to clinical devices, which would allow basic cytometry to be done at point of care as technology for rapid diagnostics.” With such large growth expected in the coming years, more labs will be under pressure to accomplish more in less time, and the benefits of automation will come to the forefront, releasing laboratory staff to focus on other critical work and not the workflow. After all, that’s what fuels the passion in the first place.
“It is personally gratifying to see how this research can shape future treatments,” Bare said. “I can’t wait to see what happens next.”