Cytometry and Antibody Technology

Why the LSRII 4-12 had to go

by | Dec 12, 2023 | Chronicles of a SRL, Instruments | 1 comment

We recently said good bye to the LSRII 4-12 and I wanted to say a few words about what happened. There are a some things to highlight here, as the retirement of these units is somewhat controversial in the field. BD had announced the end of their support of the model starting 2022. But since the Fortessas – essentially a repackaged LSRII in a box that take up less counter space –  are still supported, why was that necessary?

One thing to know is that the end of support by BD mainly means that they won’t offer service contracts anymore, and service will be offered as long as parts are available. But there is something about this last point to understand: there are so many LSRIIs and Fortessas on the field that parts are just everywhere. Also, this instrument is one of the best known platforms in terms of DIY repair and maintenance, which means that LSRII owners should be very well equipped to support their own instruments for many years to come. Many third party service groups will likely continue to service these platforms, so I can see the LSRII becoming the FACSCalibur of a new generation of researchers: a very sturdy platform supported by crafty groups.

Why then did we decide to get rid of our own LSRII? It’s mostly a budget issue. Our LSRII would not display data on the software. The cause of the issue has not been established at this point, and will likely never be known. We did a lot of work to identify the cause: with the support of BD’s tech support team, we reseated every single cables, we replaced DAQ boards left and right, we reinstalled the software, made a new database, the whole nine yards… There was simply nothing we could find that would explain the issue. And no, it was not a clog.

At that point we relied on the expertise of our local service engineer. We were told that such a problem, with a yet undefined root cause, was likely to require quite the expensive fix. Here is the budget issue: the LSRII had been generating roughly $6000 quarterly and was on a downward trend over the last few years. So let’s imagine that we had to pay somewhere around $40K, as we were told might be the case, it would have taken us about 1.7 year of revenue from the LSRII to pay the service bill itself. Given that we could also expect other expensive problems to emerge (laser replacement was one of them!), we saw that the LSRII would essentially become a money pit. So we just removed it form our active list.

With the support of the UoC BSD, we were able to secure funding for a new and more reliable Quanteon to replace the LSRII. What is to be done with the LSRII then? Well as I said before, the LSRII has the same components as the Fortessas (and Arias, to a degree), so we have stripped the instrument clean and will use spare parts to fix the rest of our fleet. DAQ boards, lasers, PMTs, tubes and their connectors, everything can be used here. Oh! And the computer!! Definitely the computer! We won’t get better value if we try to trade or sell the instrument.

Last thing: we’re not replacing a BD platform by another BD instrument! Why is that? Mainly, I don’t like the LSR platform – the LSRII, the Fortessa, the Symphony. It is fraught with self-destruct features: your sheath tank will run empty if unsupervised, causing laser burns to the flow cell; leave your sample on the SIP with too much liquid and it will get into the air lines and damage filters; unattended samples left on RUN will get sucked in. These have caused a sensible amount of experiments to fail over the years, and there is just no reason to put up with this anymore. I’m not saying I’ll never buy a BD platform ever again, but I don’t feel strongly about the current platforms being offered. It’s not the most popular of the opinions that I hold, and can understand if anyone disagrees. Happy to be proven wrong, drop by the facility and let me know what you think!


Goodbye LSRII 4-12

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1 Comment

  1. It is a good decision. BD need to accept that they need to make better machine with better design not just repackaging. Quanteon is a great system, I would say best for the conventional category. Has a lot of features and takes up half of the space compared to the LSRII.


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