Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Diagnostic Flow Cytometry and the AIDS Pandemic

This article was a finalist in the 2014 Mayo Clinic Boerhaave History of Medicine Essay Contest.

         In the late 1960’s a convergence of fluid dynamics, laser detecting photodiodes, and high-speed computers with fluorescent antibody detection allowed for the characterization and quantification of individual cells in low volumes at a high rate of speed [1, 2].  Prior to flow cytometry (FCM), most clinical immunology labs and immunophenotyping facilities used fluorescent microscopy to examine cells.  The transition to clinical cytometry would have remained an uneventfully slow progression if it weren’t for the advent of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) [3].  This review will discuss the history of flow cytometry, its role in HIV diagnosis, and conclude with where flow cytometry is going.