Two weeks ago, the Cellix team travelled to Prague to participate in Cyto 2018, a conference focused on the cutting edge of flow cytometry research.
In the first of a 4 part series, here's our five key take-aways from the conference.
I've been attending Cyto 2018 with Cellix for several years now and it's always an informative conference, covering developments in flow cytometry, advanced microscopy, flow reagents and data interpretation and presentation. This year saw commercial workshops, nearly 70 companies exhibiting, scientific tutorials and quality lectures.
The use of flow cytometry to understand cell mechanisms and human disease has always been a staple of the field and, by extension, the conference. However, this year I noticed a new and exciting trend; the increased use of flow cytometry in novel applications in gene therapy and human therapeutics. This is something that's really opening the field up to compelling possibilities and broadening the horizon of what the technology can achieve. There was a definite shift in attitude and content this year compared with previous - it seems many researchers found this trend as compelling as I did!
I was invited to present a talk along with Emmanuelle Deponge, one of our board of directors with extensive venture capital experience, about starting up a technology company from scratch.
We looked at this from both the entrepreneurial and VC perspective. It seemed to resonate with those in the crowd who had been involved in a similar process, and I had several people approach me leading to some excellent discussions (which I'll outline later in the post series!).
After that, we were free to enjoy the conference! While the Cellix team were showcasing our own Inish Mini-Bar, I also got the chance to speak to some people at the forefront of the flow cytometry field. From the information I gathered at Cyto 2018, some of my take home points and predictions would be:
Summary: Our 5 Biggest Takeaways from Cyto 2018
Take home: Cyto this year saw a move away from its roots as a basic research conference into more clinically applied aspects.
Prediction: As gene editing technologies become more accessible, this trend will continue, as specialists in flow cytometry see applications for basic research tools in a clinical setting.
Take home: Many systems at Cyto 2018 were more integrated than their predecessors e.g. the integration of electroporators on chip and also an increase in interest in cell sorting. An example of this would be the Miltenyi CliniMACS Prodigy; not on display at Cyto but much discussed.
Prediction: Therapeutic cell sorting will increasingly become integrated with gene transfection and editing technologies until we have point-of-care treatments for genetic diseases. Innovations in integrated systems will shape further advances in both basic and clinical research.
Take home: Therapeutic cell sorters could have huge benefits to patients and clinicians but currently have issues around throughput, sterility and regulation.
Prediction: The next few years will see a shift away from the common jet-in-air sorters, towards closed systems for sterility. This will then become standard and be written into the regulations surrounding therapeutic cell sorting.
Take home: Increasingly as common use in humans becomes closer to a reality, the effects of marker genes, dyes and stains on gene expression within the cell (or propensity to cause inflammation on re-infusion into a patient) is a cause for concern.
Prediction: This is an area that needs more data, but from what's currently available we may see a large shift in interest towards label-free methods.
Take home: Similarly to above, the effects of conventional flow set-ups on cells is under examination; there was a presentation given by P Lopez which presented the term SICS - Shear Induced Cell Stress - as a term for cell sorter induced damage to cells.
Prediction: As with the attention given to dyes and stains, this is evidence that as flow cytometry increasingly moves to the clinic researchers are attempting to define precisely the impact flow cytometry or cell sorting will have on the cell. I see several more studies along these lines emerging over the next few years - perhaps with surprising results.
Other topics under much discussion were issues around:
the potential of e-learning in flow cytometry applications and leadership
networking based around Shared Resource Labs (SRL)
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