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October 15, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 18)

Tool to Improve Ion-Channel Screening

Instrument Seeks to Advance Ligand-Gated Aspect of Critically Important Field

  • Experimental Functionality

    In terms of functional architecture, the recording plate is composed of four individual microfluidic chips, each of which has four separate experiment units. This gives a total of 16 separate recording group experiments per plate. Each experimental unit has up to six cells that are exposed to the same concentration of ligand/compound. By taking this approach, there is a built-in facility for cell redundancy within each group of six cells, thus increasing the collection of statistically meaningful data points for each application of compound.

    In addition to this, the microfluidic laminar flow technology for applying ligands (and compounds) decouples this process from liquid-handling robotics, circumventing any rate-limiting mechanical scheduling processes and avoiding potentially poorly defined compound application times.

  • Throughput

    The system operates independently for periods of at least four hours as a result of an automated cell-preparation station. This station incorporates a heated stage to maintain cells in optimal condition before dissociation and a centrifuge for removal of media before seeding plates into the recording plate. Cells are, therefore, freshly prepared for each experiment enhancing the likelihood of all cells being viable throughout a run.

    In a typical eight-hour day, the system is capable of recording from around three plates per hour providing a throughput of at least 3,000 data points per day, with minimal need for an operator to be present during experiments.

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