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Methods Cell Biol. 2011;102:105-25. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-374912-3.00005-5.

Rise of the micromachines: microfluidics and the future of cytometry.

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The BioMEMS Research Group, Department of Chemistry, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


The past decade has brought many innovations to the field of flow and image-based cytometry. These advancements can be seen in the current miniaturization trends and simplification of analytical components found in the conventional flow cytometers. On the other hand, the maturation of multispectral imaging cytometry in flow imaging and the slide-based laser scanning cytometers offers great hopes for improved data quality and throughput while proving new vistas for the multiparameter, real-time analysis of cells and tissues. Importantly, however, cytometry remains a viable and very dynamic field of modern engineering. Technological milestones and innovations made over the last couple of years are bringing the next generation of cytometers out of centralized core facilities while making it much more affordable and user friendly. In this context, the development of microfluidic, lab-on-a-chip (LOC) technologies is one of the most innovative and cost-effective approaches toward the advancement of cytometry. LOC devices promise new functionalities that can overcome current limitations while at the same time promise greatly reduced costs, increased sensitivity, and ultra high throughputs. We can expect that the current pace in the development of novel microfabricated cytometric systems will open up groundbreaking vistas for the field of cytometry, lead to the renaissance of cytometric techniques and most importantly greatly support the wider availability of these enabling bioanalytical technologies.

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