August 2018 Newsletter: newly released instruments, our busy summer, FCSExpress, replaceable fluidics, exciting papers and planned down time

We finally had a little bit of rain to break up the boring monotony of sunshine at Sanger. This month we talk about newly released instruments, our busy summer, FCSExpress, replaceable fluidics, exciting papers and planned down time.

p.s. if you like the look of any of the instruments, or think that we should provide any other service, please let us know.

New instrumentation

Merck CellStream (released)
A 7 laser, 22 parameter benchtop flow cytometer using cameras to capture low-resolution cell images and transform these into intensity data with high fluorescence sensitivity.
Sony MA900 (released)
Sony’s new cell sorter and a direct upgrade of the SH800; 12 fluorescent parameters, 4 way sorting, and spatial separation between 2 sets of laser lines.
CyTek Auora (released)
The CyTek spectral flow cytometer has 3 laser lines and up to 50 detection parameters. It detects fluorophores using their entire spectrum allowing the separation of proteins normally not possible on traditional flow cytometers such as GFP and YFP.
Zellkraftwerk (released)
A high throughput chip cytometer that sequentially stains, images and washes using the same 5 fluorophores allowing quick automated cell imaging. It also ‘virtual sorts’.
BD Imaging Cytometer (soon, maybe)
Using technology from Omega Biosystems, an imaging flow cytometer that uses radio frequencies to image cells as well as analysing standard fluorescent information. *Note: we were not invited to the BD Cyto2018 event that we assume showed this
Ghost Cytometer (future)
Another imaging cytometer. The interesting thing about this one is that it also sorts. It uses the same technology as ghost imaging, just backwards!

Busy Bees

Cyto: Chris and Sam went to Cyto, the annual congress for cytometrists. We presented a poster on the work we have been doing to automate the lab and Chris gave a presentation on the Human Cell Atlas with colleagues from Uni of Sydney and The Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

CTLS: Bee, with Alex and Rachael, went to the Core Technologies for Life Sciences congress to represent Cell Ops. They went to share their experience and to learn how others run their own core facilities to help improve Sangers.


flowcytometryUK: Is the biannual conference of UK based cytometrists. Bee and Jennie went with a poster on spillover spread (ask Jennie, it is useful for designing flow panels). Here Bee is with our neighbours Maria Daly (LMB) and Esther Perez (Phenotyping Hub).


WTAC: We have had 30 students though the lab in the past week. First was the Wellcome Advanced Course on Single Cell Analysis, then there were sixth form students from around the UK doing a weeks work experience with the Malaria team.



We have a 3 month trial license of FCSExpress. If you would like to use it please email us and you can have it on your PC or Mac. FCSExpress is an alternative to FlowJo and offers a completely different workflow. So if you can’t get along with FlowJo please give FCSExpress a try.

Replaceable Fluidics

We keep our instruments clean and the sorters as sterile as possible. We test this every two weeks and the sorters have not shown signs of contamination in 2018. However if you are still concerned about sterility or possible carry over of cellular debris then your best option is to use the Sony sorters as both the sort chip and sample line can be replaced easily. Talk to us for more details.


You’ve probably already heard about the Nature Biotechnology paper by our users Michael and Kärt about mutagenesis caused by CRISPR-Cas9 and it’s possible implications.
Also this month was a great paper in Cell Reports, with a fantastic gene map, by our users Meng, Jason, Kasia, Swee, Hiroko and Kosuke using a CRISPR knockout screen they discover naive pluripotency regulators in mouse ESCs.

We are very grateful to both teams for acknowledging the facility in their papers. These acknowledgments allow us to prove our utility to the institute and allows us to serve you with well maintained, reliable and state of the art instrumentation. Thank you.

Planned Downtime and Past Incidents

Every Monday 10am-11am, all staff sorters, staff meeting
Every Tue morning both Sony’s are cleaned
6th Aug all day, Influx, engineer visit
7th Aug morning, all instruments, cleaning
27th Aug, no staff, bank holiday

The Influx had become difficult to align. This was discovered to be that the laser shielding ring had become wedged between the nozzle assembly and the rest of the instrument. This was fixed and resulted in only 30 minutes of down time.

Flow Cytometry: The original single cell technology