At BD Biosciences, our customers are the most important part of our work. Providing the vital bridge between BDB and the customers is our team of dedicated and talented Application Specialists. This group of efficient and proactive people is available for the customers all the time, attending to their calls and solving their problems.
So what’s the world of a BD Application Specialist like? We decided to interview some of them and find out.
Our first interview is with Carrie Maynard, an application specialist based in Winnersh, UK. Carrie works with customers in the therapy development area, providing support for a variety of BD instruments. Here is what Carrie had to say to us about her work.
- What do you do as an application specialist in BD?
I focus on supporting biotech, cell and gene therapy companies, and also pharma companies, to get the best possible flow cytometry data to support their work. I support customers with panel design, instrument operations training, assay design and optimisation, and can generally advise on the best solutions for their needs.
- What are the typical applications of flow cytometry in therapy development?
Flow cytometry is key at every step of the drug or therapy development process. Right from very early on in the drug development process, during the R&D phase. For example, when a company is identifying a target or conducting pre-clinical assays, it is very important to get as much information about the cell types they are working with. It is very important not to miss out on a piece of the puzzle.
For research, the BD FACSymphony™ range of flow cytometers combined with other tools like the BD Rhapsody™ Single-Cell Analysis System and the BD® AbSeq oligo-conjugated antibodies allows simultaneous detection of protein and mRNA expression levels in cells. These tools allow researchers to get greater insights and much more in-depth information from their samples. Sometimes, with high-dimensional flow cytometry, it can be difficult to find the right antibody-fluorochrome combination that they need. BD can custom-conjugate antibodies using a solutioncalled BD OptiBuild™. We also offer data analysis support with the two software FlowJo™ and SeqGeq™ to make sure they don’t miss out on vital pieces of the puzzle.
We also offer another solution called BD DriChroma™, which is a cocktail of reagents dried down to the bottom of the tube. To use it, the customers simply have to reconstitute the dried antibodies and add their sample. So, it removes many of the manual pipetting steps and may help simplify the sample preparation and staining process, improve consistency of results and reduce errors. Ultimately, it enables scientists to spend less time on repetitive tasks and allows them to focus on more important problems.
Later in the drug development process, for example during clinical trials or manufacturing, the quality control of the product and also analysis of the patient response become the main goal. Here, in the analytical process, it is about consistency and traceability of analytical results and automation of the workflow to remove error-prone steps. For this, we have the BD FACSLyric™flow cytometer, a high-performance, integrated solution for accurate, reliable and repeatable results across users, instruments and sites. It can be integrated with another instrument called the BD FACSDuet™ Sample Preparation System, which automates the sample staining process for lyse no-wash assays. The BD FACSDuet™ removes many of the manual steps, reducing the number of error-prone steps in the workflow.
- Tell us how customers can get the best out of these products? Any tips or tricks you recommend?
My biggest recommendation is for the customers to ask BD scientific support or the local BD application specialist whenever they need assistance. We can help with many aspects like panel design for research and operator training. We can help customers to ensure consistent performance of their flow cytometry applications, so they get the best data from their precious samples and experiments.
- What are the typical challenges your customers encounter while using these products?
A common question I get how to know where to draw the gates when analysing. This is what makes having the correct controls so important. The only way the customers can know where to draw a gate in flow cytometry is by having an FMO, or fluorescence minus one, control. This is a tube where the customers have stained the cells with all their fluorescent antibodies except for one. When analysing, they can use this tube to draw where the gate should go for that particular parameter. I suggest when first starting out to use an FMO for each of the parameters.
Another common challenge I come across is panel design, so deciding which antibodies should be chosen with which fluorochrome conjugated. BD frequently gives seminars on this subject. If the customers are unsure, I recommend that they contact scientific support to ask for their expertise. Having a well designed panel can improve the data quality and can ultimately improve the capability to find the next big thing.
- What’s the general opinion of customers about the BD Application Support Service?
The thing that many customers are happy about is the amount of extra support that they get from BD. We are not just selling customers an instrument, but also supporting them with their assay development and make sure they are successful. We work with our customers every single step of the way and provide a lot of additional support.