Method to Distinguish and Analyze White Blood Cells in the Presence of Red Blood Cells

Applications

This technology utilizes scatter illumination techniques to distinguish between red blood cells and white blood cells without the need to lyse the cells. This would allow researchers and clinicians to more accurately analyze and count white blood cells, improving diagnostic insight into a patient’s immune system. It would be especially helpful for patients who have health conditions that make their red blood cells resistant to lysing, such as liver disease, sickle cell anemia, those undergoing chemotherapy, and newborns.

This technology may also extend to the analysis of other circulating cells including tumor cells, epithelial cells, and cancer stem cells.

Problem Addressed

It is easy to mistake red blood cells for white blood cells. Clinicians and researchers must lyse red blood cells from a sample of blood in order analyze and count the white blood cells that remain. Red blood cell lysing techniques can result in the incomplete lysis of red blood cells. Additionally, a large population of patients have hard-to-lyse red blood cells. Existing solutions for hard-to-lyse samples either adversely alter the cells via chemical fixation or require the use of dyes. There is a need for a technique, such as this, that is capable of helping researchers and clinicians more effectively identify white blood cells in the presence of red blood cells without lysing red blood cells, without altering cells, and without dyes.

Technology

This method for white blood cell analysis distinguishes between blood cell types by using side scatter. It illuminates a blood sample from multiple angles and analyzes the light interaction with each cell. When light interacts with a cell, the deflection angle can be used to measure the internal features of a cell. The reflected light from white blood cells is directionally dependent (anisotropic) while the reflected light from white blood cells in uniform in all orientations (isotropic). This technology can be added to an image-based cytometer or hematology analyzer that uses high or low resolution microscopy.

This technology is not limited to distinguishing white blood cells from red blood cells. These directional scatter techniques could be useful for better identifying a number of cell and sample types, such as circulating tumor cells, epithelial cells, and cancer stem cells.

Advantages

  • Analyze and count white blood cells without lysing red blood cells
  • Analyze hard-to-lyse blood samples with a high degree of accuracy
  • No need for dyes or cell-altering fixation chemicals
  • Low-cost optical instrumentation