Mass Cytometry (CyTOF, Cytometry by Time-of-Flight) is a modern analytical technique that combines the advantages of flow cytometry and mass spectrometry. This technique involves the use of stable metal isotopes (mainly lanthanides) as chemical tags for antibodies, DNA probes, or low molecular chemical probes. Due to the fact that each of these metals (tags) has an individual molecular mass, it is possible to use many such metals in one experiment, because their mass spectra do not overlap. The consequence of this is the ability to measure over 40 cell parameters in parallel, which significantly exceeds the possibilities of flow cytometry, which uses fluorescent tags.

Over the past few years there has been a rapid development of mass cytometry both from the technical side and its application in research on the development of many diseases, including cancer and inflammatory diseases. It became possible to accurately determine the immunophenotype of individual subtypes of cancers and other diseases, which contributed to their better classification and, consequently, to the selection of optimal, personalized treatment. What is more, mass cytometry is currently increasingly used in clinical trials, being a very useful technology, e.g. in monitoring the progress of treatment and predicting the effectiveness of therapy, and thus has a key importance in estimating the survival time of cancer patients.

Currently, the Department of Chemical Biology and Bioimaging at the Wrocław University of Science and Technology has the only mass cytometry laboratory in Poland, which is equipped with a third generation mass cytometer (Helios) and a tissue imaging system for slides (Hyperion). As part of the TEAM-Net program, we use these instruments to study the location and catalytic activity of individual neutrophilic serine proteases that are of key importance for the development of neturopenia.