Free Flow A sampling of free software for flow cytometry data analysis

Flow cytometers guide fluorescently labeled cells one by one past a series of lasers and detectors in order to record their physical and molecular characteristics. Researchers using these techniques can survey tens or even hundreds of thousands of cells, garnering information that allows them not only to enumerate known cell types (such as CD4+ and CD8+ T cells) but also to identify novel subpopulations they may never have known were there.

But data collection is only the first part of the story; in flow cytometry it’s the analysis that counts. At a minimum, flow cytometry software packages must be able to load raw data files, transform the recorded intensity values onto a logarithmic scale, “gate” the information (i.e., identify threshold values to define whether a cell expresses a given marker), and plot the results.

Flow cytometers include their own software packages, of course, and third-party commercial analysis tools also exist. But these packages are typically relatively slow to adopt advances coming out of academic labs, says Ryan Brinkman, a Distinguished Scientist in the Terry Fox Laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver. As a result, a healthy collection of free and open-source alternatives has sprung up over the past decade or so. Brinkman even co-organizes periodic open competitions called FlowCAP to test them (


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Cambridge Biomedical Adds to Their Flow Cytometry Capabilities


Cambridge Biomedical is very excited to introduce a new state-of-the-art flow cytometry (FACS) tool. A 405-nm violet laser has been added to our FACS Canto II laser array, upgrading the previous 2 lasers-6 color set-up to a 3 lasers-8 colors capability. The addition of this laser has allowed Cambridge Biomedical to maximize multi-color flow performance, with contemporaneous analysis of 8 targets in a single sample. Utilizing dyes in the violet spectrum (for example Pacific Blue™, AmCyan, BD Horizon V450 and Brilliant Violet™ 421) will be a significant enhancement for researchers that seek to garner maximum information from small or rare sample sizes, as well as save time and money in terms of actual project time.

Flow cytometry is a very powerful technique for rapidly analyzing large numbers of cells individually with a host of applications in both basic research, drug discovery, and the clinical laboratory. This addition will expand our capabilities in multiple research areas, including increasing the information output in immunophenotyping, staining of surface markers and/or viability markers along with intra-cellular staining of cytokines, intra-nuclear staining of phosphoproteins, and cell cycle and cell proliferation assays, among many others.

Cambridge Biomedical

Since 1997, Cambridge Biomedical has partnered with our clients by providing a diverse range of services from pre-clinical to post market. Including; assay development, optimization, validation and diagnostic testing. Conveniently located to support the Northeast pharmaceutical development market, yet with a national and global reach. Our personalized project management, approach along with a focus on delivering quality results and regulatory submission ready documentation and rapid turnaround times, ensure we meet our client’s product development timelines.