CyTOF Mass Cytometer

The University of British Columbia’s CyTOF2 mass cytometer is located in the Biomedical Research Centre and is operated by Mark Hamer as an extension of the UBCflow core facility.

Mass cytometry combines elements of traditional flow cytometry and mass spectrometry into a single instrument, allowing the simultaneous detection of approximately 40 parameters at single-cell resolution. To achieve this, cells are stained with antibodies conjugated to isotopic lanthanide-series metals. Single cells are then introduced into the CyTOF2 instrument via a fluidics system. Each cell is atomized and ionized in an argon plasma. Low mass elements such as carbon, nitrogen, etc. are filtered by a quadrapole and an ion cloud containing only the metal isotopes bound to that cell during staining exits. The ion cloud is pushed through a time-of-flight chamber at extremely high frequency. A high-sensitivity detector measures the time-of flight characteristics of each push and the signals are integrated into a mass profile for each cell. The CyTOF2 instrument is capable of measuring approximately 300-400 cells per second in this way.

The detector of the CyTOF2 mass cytometer is easily capable of resolving single AMU differences. Because of this, concerns around autofluorescence are non-existent and issues pertaining to signal spillover are drastically reduced.

Antibody panels are currently designed on a per-project basis. This affords the user complete control over the customization of their panel so that it best suits their needs. A typical panel consists of 30-35 antibodies, alongside a number of non-antibody based tags used to distinguish intact live cells from debris.  

Please contact either Mark Hamer or Andy Johnson if you are interested in a consultation, or would simply like to learn more about the technology.