Hematologic malignancies include a wide array of lymphomas and leukemias that affect different immune cell subsets. Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is one of the most commonly occurring leukemias in adults and children. AML is a highly heterogenous disease that can be caused by spontaneous gene mutations or chromosomal translocations, which results in the proliferation of dysfunctional myeloid cells. Cytogenetic and morphologic analyses have been the gold standard methods used in AML diagnosis, but flow cytometry-based protocols are becoming more widely used and validated as complementary diagnostic methods that can be coupled with these analyses to better guide treatment plans. Flow cytometry has also become an essential tool to understand AML progression and develop and evaluate novel therapeutics.
Consider these aspects of flow cytometry-based analysis of AML for exploratory or preclinical research:
Phenotype matters: Immunologists know a lot about what a normally developing myeloid cell should look like in terms of its immunophenotype. Changes in expression of different lineage markers correlate strongly with AML progression and are characterized by the presence of blasts (leukemic cells) in the bone marrow. Flow cytometry-based immunophenotyping offers researchers a rapid and sensitive method for detecting blasts at the onset of disease as well as monitoring changes to this population throughout the course of an experimental therapy.
Rare cells from precious samples: A major consideration of following AML progression is the ability to detect relatively rare cells in bone marrow aspirates. This type of sample may be relatively small and is typically used fresh for morphologic evaluation, but even a small volume of remaining aspirate can be used for flow cytometry-based methods that are sensitive and robust enough to detect blasts.
Paired samples: Bone marrow cells can be analyzed along with peripheral blood using advanced flow cytometry methods that monitor the persistence of blasts and other leukemic subsets over time in these compartments. This type of analysis offers critical insight into the development of new therapeutics whether they are being evaluated in humanized mouse models or in clinical trial participants.
Flow cytometry continues to advance immuno-oncology research, especially for diseases involving detection of rare cell populations. Consider working with experts in preclinical and clinical flow cytometry to develop protocols for future immune-oncology studies.