IMPROVED FLOW CYTOMETER HARDWARE DESIGN AND SOFTWARE ANALYSIS PACKAGE
Tech ID: 19092 / UC Case 2008-099-0
Flow cytometry and cell sorting are well-established technologies that allow for rapid multiparametric analysis of cells on an individual basis, and also for separation of highly purified populations of cells. Because the technology collects quantitative data regarding cellular size, granularity, and fluorescence intensity signals, it has found many basic research, clinical, and industrial applications. Researchers demands for more intricate, high-throughput analyses have led to modern machines that simultaneously measure many phenotypic and functional parameters, while functioning at high speeds. Future studies will require flow cytometers to deliver increasingly precise data and better detection of rare events.Along with demands for better, more sophisticated instruments, there is also great need for less expensive, simpler machines. The vast majority of flow cytometers are used in clinical diagnostics, where the drive for better and more practical tests imposes demands for inexpensive and robust analysis. Additionally, typical machines are prohibitively expensive for many resource-poor areas in which monitoring of disease and efficacy of therapies is critical, such as in the detection and monitoring of HIV infection and its progression to AIDS. Though flow cytometers are already used in many diverse areas, as they become cheaper, more manageable, and easier to operate they may become more widespread in immunological and infectious screening, field clinics, water monitoring, agriculture and veterinary diagnostics, and rapidly deployable biothreat detection.
INVENTION DESCRIPTION AND ADVANTAGES:
UCSF inventors have developed a new flow cytometer design that allows for the manufacture of less expensive hardware, with data quality equal or superior to that of currently available machines. The invention portfolio consists of a new hardware design (SF2008-099) and a generally applicable software analysis package (SF2008-100) for use with either the new hardware design or traditional machines.The new hardware design is technically superior to existing designs because it uses fewer hardware resources but allows collection of a larger amount of information about each particle. When combined with the software analysis package, the information collected can be processed to yield data that are superior to those collected by existing machines. Due to reduced hardware requirements, instruments based on this design will be less costly to manufacture and more reliable than currently-available instruments. Despite these cost savings, the data collected are of equivalent or better quality than those provided by traditional designs. For example, early prototypes show improved resolution of low-intensity signals due to a substantial (9-fold) reduction in the spillover between fluorophores. A licensee of both the hardware and software inventions will be able to manufacture better performing, more reliable flow cytometers and cell sorters for less cost than current designs.The analysis softwarewhich is also available separatelysubstantially improves the sensitivity of flow cytometry to low-intensity signals by reducing errors associated with the conventional compensation process. Analyzing the data from a state-of-the-art, commercially available machine with the new software analysis package instead of currently available packages shows an over 100-fold increase in sensitivity. Additionally, the software package allows for the evaluation of fluorescence spectra to determine optimal filter sets, making the machine easier to operate and configure. A licensee of the software package alone would be able to offer software for analysis of flow cytometry data that provides more sensitive and more correct results than other software. With access to both this invention and the new hardware design, a licensee could offer superior flow cytometers as well as the software necessary to optimally configure the machine and interpret the resulting data.