The EuroFlow Consortium consists of more than 20 diagnostic research groups and one associated SME, which are regarded as experts in the fields of flow cytometric and molecular diagnostics. Together these groups have sufficient complementarity and congruence to cover all aspects of development, standardization, and validation of highly sensitive flow cytometric tests for diagnosis and follow-up. The EuroFlow Consortium started its collaborative research efforts in 2006 supported by the European Commission as a Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) of the 6th framework programme.
The main objective of EuroFlow is the development and standardization of fast, accurate, and highly sensitive flow cytometric tests for diagnosis and prognostic (sub)classification of hematological malignancies as well as for evaluation of treatment effectiveness during follow-up. This includes the introduction of novel flow cytometric methods for replacing several types of molecular techniques (particularly PCR-based detection of fusion genes and oncogenes).
EuroFlow is supported by ESLHO (European Scientific foundation for Laboratory Hemato-Oncology). The other foundations associated with ESLHO area EuroClonality and EuroMRD.
ESLHO is an official EHA Specialized Working Group (SWG). SWGs seek to initiate and create scientific networks that serve under the umbrella of EHA. At the annual EHA Congress, ESLHO presents its innovations in the special EHA-SWG sessions.
Flow cytometry for diagnosis, prognosis and disease monitoring
Laboratory diagnostics of hematological malignancies has three major applications: establishing the diagnosis, prognostic classification, and evaluation of treatment effectiveness. Over the past decade, several molecular techniques have brought new insights into classification and monitoring of treatment effectiveness. However, they have several major disadvantages: they are time consuming, not applicable in all categories of patients, and cannot focus on cellular subpopulations without purification steps.
These limitations can be overcome by innovations in flow cytometry. Flow cytometric immunophenotyping is the sole technique that fulfils the requirements of high speed, broad applicability at diagnosis and follow-up, and accurate focusing on the malignant cell population using membrane-bound and intracellular proteins as targets. The required innovative steps concern development of novel antibodies, novel immunobead technology, novel flow cytometry software, and novel immunostaining protocols, which are all key objectives of the EuroFlow Consortium. This needs a multidisciplinary translational research approach using cutting edge technologies and biological data arising from genomic research, which can be addressed most successfully via close collaboration between industry and academia.
The aims of the EuroFlow Consortium typically concern "translational research", i.e. translation of knowledge and experience from basic research into novel diagnostics, fully fitting with the objectives of the LifeSciHealth Priority in the area of "Development of new diagnostics". This concerns both technical innovations in flow cytometry and new flow cytometric strategies, which will substantially contribute to early diagnosis as well as to accurate monitoring of residual disease for evaluation of treatment effectiveness.
The successful implementation of the proposal and the dissemination of the results to European hematological laboratories should result in health care progress through more precise diagnosis and individualized treatment as well as in strengthening of European biotechnology enterprises.
EuroFlow: Standardization of flow cytometry
Based on the results of the EuroFlow Consortium, optimized and standardized immunostaining protocols for the diagnosis, classification, and prognostic subclassification of hematological malignancies as well as for detection of MRD during follow-up are becoming available. The laboratories involved in the EuroFlow Consortium represent eleven countries and will further disseminate the standardized immunostaining protocols to international and national flow cytometry networks in the field of diagnosis and monitoring of hematological malignancies. All details of EuroFlow’s standardized immunostaining protocols are published in high-ranking international SCI journals.
Additionally, the use of common software will contribute to further standardization of the analysis and interpretation of flow cytometric immunophenotyping results. All requirements for performing the proposed project are available within the EuroFlow Consortium: knowledge, technology, highly skilled personnel, and patient material.
Aims of EuroFlow
- Selection of novel diagnostic targets at protein level
- Novel technical approach for development of novel antibodies
- Development of several single tube immunobead assays for easy detection of fusion proteins and ectopically expressed or overexpressed oncoproteins per disease (sub)category
- Development of novel flow cytometric technique for detection of intracellular fusion proteins at the single cell level
- Novel flow cytometric software for easy and fast handling and integration of multiple ≥ 8-colour stainings
- Development of software for automated pattern recognition of normal, reactive, and regenerating PB and BM samples as a basis for highly sensitive detection of MRD during follow-up
- Immunostaining protocols for diagnosis and classification of hematological malignancies
- Immunostaining protocols for monitoring during follow-up of hematological malignancies
- Immunostaining protocols for the diagnosis of PID
- Immunostaining protocols for immune monitoring