To be in a position to better understand the roles played by different immune cells in healthy and disease settings we must first be able to purify these cells. Only once we can obtain these cells as a pure fraction can we truly assess their individual contributions in any given setting. In recent years, our ability to discriminate between different cells types that often look similar has improved dramatically. By marking the cells with many different fluorescently-labelled antibodies recognising proteins on the surface of specific cell types, we can now accurately identify the cells.
However, this often requires combinations of more than 20
-25 antibodies or ‘markers’ each labelled with a different colour. While we have the infrastructure to allow us to design such panels of markers and begin to analyse the cells, the current technology available in Belgium, does not allow us to isolate these cells for downstream functional studies to enable us to assess exactly what roles these cells might play in health and disease. However, the recent development of the BD FACSymphony 30-parameter cell sorter allows just this. Thus, here in this application we are applying for funding to purchase this machine and install it within the institute’s core facility to enable many researchers within Ghent University to take their research to the next level, allowing them for the first time to purify and hence specifically assess the functions of these, often, rare and important cells.