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Biotech Life Science
Cell Counters

How Cell Counting Works & How We Save You Time & Money

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Cell counting equipment

As a life science tool, cell counters are used in medical diagnosis, cell therapy, and microorganism research; anywhere cell types, particles, and even small organisms must be counted and/or sized.

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That’s because determining cell concentration is highly important in any field that relies on cells. And automated cell counters are devices that allow physicians, researchers, and scientists to do just that: perform an accurate cell count. Doing so lets them know exactly how many cells—dead or alive—are in a culture.

Most automated cell counters use either direct imaging or electrical impedance to determine the number of cells, and speed up image analysis while reducing count inaccuracy by allowing you to upload your images based on the modality of your choice.

Besides the medical field, where physicians require an accurate count of blood cells to figure out the correct treatment for a cancer patient, another example of where accurate cell count is of extreme importance is in the dairy industry. Dairy farmers need to know how healthy their cows are because healthy cows will be able to fight off things like infection more easily, in turn producing more milk. To determine a cow’s health, a dairy farmers relies on a somatic cell count (SCC).

In order to perform this measurement, stains such as trypan blue (TB) are used to mark dead cells in a sample of milk. By diluting the sample with the stain, live cells and dead cells can be differentiated from, and the SCC of the cow can be measured. Dilution with TB is effective because it can only enter cells with compromised membranes (live cells have an intact cell membrane, and therefore TB cannot penetrate the membrane).

Cell Counting Techniques, Benefits, & Price

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Counting cells is a necessary step in maintaining cell cultures and preparing cells for experiments or downstream applications, and is an important subset of cytometry. Depending on whether you’re using automated or manual methods, this step can either be a very tedious or a very simple task. Let’s compare automated and manual methods and cover some of the benefits of cell counting.

Automation vs. Manual

There are a number of differences between automated and manual cell counting methods which can sometimes make picking between one difficult.

While manual cell counting is often highly accurate—this depends on the end-user’s ability—it is ultimately time-consuming and, as mentioned, subject to user error. Automated cell counting, while faster and less user-dependent, can end up becoming more expensive due to disposable slide consumables. Knowing which counting technology is best for your lab comes down to understanding what your application and throughput needs are. Basing your decision on these factors will help you make one that best suits you and your team. Below are some examples of manual and automated cell counting devices.

Hemocytometers (Manual)

Originally developed for the quantification of blood cells, a hemocytometer is a counting-chamber device used to manually count cells. Soon after its development, it became an effective and popular tool for counting a variety of other cells as well, from algae and yeast, to stem cells, cancer cells, cultured cells, and much more.

Specifically, mammalian cell viability is measured using a hemocytometer, with the help of a trypan blue (TB) exclusion assay.

Though reliable and cheap in the eyes of many researchers, manual hemocytometer-based cell counting has a slew of disadvantages compared to automated cell counting.

Automated Cell Counters

One of the main differences between an automated cell counter and a manual-based device, such as hemocytometer, is speed. While manually counting every cell can be extremely time-consuming, automated counting machines are able to get an accurate cell count significantly faster than a human.

Accuracy is another important differentiation. Manual counting methods often suffer from variability or bias typically associated with human error, whereas automated counting systems do not. Though the initial cost of a hemocytometer may be lower, once you factor in possible data errors and the additional labor involved, automated cell counting methods are usually seen as the optimal choice.

Automated features allow for researchers to have walkaway time, and most devices use counting chambers, reusable glass cell counting slides that make handling cells much easier. High quality cover slips protect the cell suspension while a notch allows it to be loaded easily.

A few examples of automated cell counters include the Corning® Cell Counter, the Cellometer Bright Field from Nexcelom, and the ImageXpress® Pico Automated Cell Imaging System. While the Corning® Cell Counter uses cloud-based image processing to count cells, the Cellometer Bright Field illuminates unstained adherent cells using monochromatic light with the assistance of a pinhole aperture. The ImageXpress® pairs digital microscopy with brightfield, fluorescence, and digital confocal imaging for high resolution imagery and analysis. It is an essential piece in a larger workflow provided by Molecular Devices that your lab can utilize to increase productivity and reduce costs.

Coulter Counters

Coulter counters employ the Coulter principle to determine both cell count and cell size. Also known as electrical zone sensing, or resistive pulse sensing, these counters are able to count the number of cells that pass through a microchannel.

While suspended in electrolytes, the cells pass through the microchannel, causing the liquid’s electrical resistance to drop. By measuring when these drops occur, one can count the exact number of cells that have passed through the channel.

Viability Count

Depending on the work that you are doing, having a count of not only the number of cells, but also the number of living cells in a culture is important. Specifically, this information is important when studying various bioprocesses.

Cell viability measurements are also used in cytotoxicity assays to determine the effectiveness of some drugs. Though several methods exist, one of the more popular ones involves using Trypan blue dye to mark and differentiate dead cells from live ones.

Flow Cytometry & Cell Counting

Researchers can use flow cytometric cell counting to differentiate between various cell populations by utilizing fluorescent beads. This is accomplished by running the sample through the flow cytometer, only stopping after a pre-determined amount of beads have been analyzed.

Performing cell counting using this method is an effective way to analyze a sample because the fluorescent bead’s concentration is known. With that information in hand, volumes of samples analyzed can be computed easily. The number of cellular events is then counted and the concentration is determined. Besides fluorescent staining, scatter properties are also used to differentiate between populations within a sample, adding another option to your tool kit when it comes to cell counting.

Karl Vierordt and the Complete Blood Count

A person’s blood can tell us a lot about their health. Infections, cancers, and other diseases can be detected by monitoring specific changes in a person’s blood cell count.

The very first blood count was performed in 1852 by Karl Vierordt when he counted individual cells under a microscope. Fast forward to today, where doctors are able to get extremely accurate and detailed reports about a person’s blood in a fraction of the time it took Karl.

Hemoglobin, hematocrit, and white and red blood cells are a few of the important results that are included in the test. The use of automated cell counters allows doctors and researchers to perform complete blood count (CBC) tests accurately within a matter of minutes.

We Offer Automated Cell Counter Leases to Fit Every Need

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Founder-Friendly Leases

Our lease agreements are founder-friendly and flexible, helping you preserve working capital, strengthen the cash flow of your business, and keep business credit lines open for expansions, staffing, and other crucial operational expenses and business development opportunities.

2-5 Year Lease Lengths

Leases range from 2 to 5 years. Length will depend on several factors, including how long you want to use the equipment, equipment type, and your company’s financial position. These are standard factors leasing companies consider and help us tailor a lease agreement to fit your needs.

Your Choice of Manufacturer

We don’t carry an inventory. This means you’re not limited to a specific set of manufacturers. Instead, you can pick the equipment that aligns with your business goals and preferences. We’ll work with the manufacturer of your choice to get the equipment in your facility as quickly as possible.

Maintenance & Repair Coverage

Bundle preventive maintenance and repair coverage with your lease agreement. You can spread those payments over time. Easily maintain your equipment, minimize the chances something will break down, repair instrumentation quickly, and simplify your payment processes.

End-of-Lease Options

At the end of your lease, you have multiple options. You can either renew the lease at a significantly lower price, purchase the machine outright based on the fair market value of the original pricing, or call it a day and we’ll come the pick up the equipment for you free of charge.

No Loan-Like Terms

Our leases do not include loan-like terms, which can be restrictive or harmful in certain situations. We do not require debt covenants, IP pledges, collateral,  or equity participation. Our goal is to maximize your flexibility. When you lease with us, you’re collaborating with a true business partner.

In-House Underwriting Process

Our underwriting is done in-house. You can expect quicker turnaround, allowing you respond to your equipment needs as they arise. We require less documentation than traditional lenders and financiers and can get the equipment you need in operation more quickly.