High-throughput cell-based assays are an integral part of the drug-screening process. With the ability to automate and subsequently accelerate the entire process, high-throughput screening (HTS) allows researchers to conduct biochemical assays to rapidly identify active compounds, antibodies, or genes of interest. The results of such screening experiments provide the starting point for drug design as well as an understanding of various cellular interactions.
With the ability to screen a wide range of static assays against a library of candidate compounds, HTS provides analysis for cellular events such as kinase activation/inhibition, up/down regulation of signal transduction pathways, and apoptosis, to provide a detailed understanding of potential drug effects. The assays that are incorporated into any one screening campaign are dependent on the therapeutic targets, which can include cancer, cardiovascular disease, and inflammation. However, for any assay, an accurate method of dispensing live cells is essential and must be suitable for all assay types.
Successfully dispensing cells while maintaining viability is essential to the entire procedure in order to ensure that accurate resulting data is obtained. Traditionally, researchers have used conventional hand-held pipettes to enable gentle dispensing that does not cause any damage, ensuring that cell viability is effectively maintained.
Although this is effective, pipetting is often viewed as a bottleneck due to its time-consuming, labor-intensive process. Automated reagent dispensers can be used to achieve a higher throughput within screening laboratories. Dispensing in this manner must also be gentle so as not to cause any damage to the cells.
In this article, we investigate the process of dispensing live HeLa S3 cells into 96- and 384-well microplates using the Thermo Scientific Multidrop Combi reagent dispenser from Thermo Fisher Scientific. The results are subsequently compared with cell viability data achieved using hand-held pipettes. The peristaltic pump technology and optimized dispensing cassettes of the Multidrop® Combi provide the capability to quickly dispense cells into any multiwelled plate type for all varieties of cell-based assay.