ED YOUNG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ED YOUNG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Flow cytometer. Technicians use a flow cytometer to analyse a sample of human blood cells, in this case during a test for leukaemia. The cells have been tagged with a fluorescent antibody that binds to certain types of cells. The cells are then passed through a beam of bright light in a single file. This light causes tagged cells to fluoresce so that they can be counted by a detector. The technique can be used to assess a patient's immune status by counting the various types of white blood cells present in a blood sample. Leukaemia is caused by cancer in the bone marrow, and leads to abnormally high numbers of white blood cells being produced.
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