By Gunjan Choudhary
Despite the fact that stem cells were discovered more than three decades ago, cell sorting has, until recently, been limited to large institutional core facilities. Now, stem cell researchers can start taking advantage of the power of benchtop cell sorters and their ability to improve results.
Stem cells possess the remarkable potential to self-renew and to differentiate into many different types of cells. In fact, it is these two characteristics that distinguish stem cells from other cell types. Due to their unique ability to regenerate, stem cells have been used in the regeneration of tissues and organs over the past two decades, albeit with varying degrees of success (Bolli et al. 2011, Schwartz et al. 2012). Stem cells also offer great hope for treating diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Given their importance in regenerative medicine and in normal physiology, stem cells are very extensively studied. To that end, there has been an increasing need to develop techniques that allow the separation and isolation of highly pure populations of stem cells, in a manner that is efficient, simple, flexible, and easy to use.