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CyTOF Gives Researchers Greater Insight into the Intricacies of Immune Cells

Why do some individuals infected with the West Nile virus develop life-threatening infections while others never know they had more than a mosquito bite? That medical mystery is just one of the questions that Ruth Montgomery, associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, seeks to explore with the use of a transformational tool for translational research.

It’s called CyTOF, which stands for cytometry by time-of-flight, and it gives researchers greater insight into the intricacies of immune cells than ever before. Established at Yale last year, the CyTOF tool is one of an estimated 90 in use by researchers and pharmaceutical companies around the world.

“It really offers some advantages,” said Montgomery, who directs Yale’s CyTOF facility at Yale School of Medicine. “Researchers who are eager to advance their discoveries are going to want to use the best technology they can.”

With the technology, researchers studying a range of conditions — from West Nile to multiple sclerosis to diabetes to cancer — can generate an unprecedented level of detailed data about cells from relatively small samples. The data helps them identify previously undetected cell subsets, deepening their understanding of cell biology and human disease.

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