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Cell-BasedAssays


Figure 1


The Analytik Jena CyBio FeliX benchtop liquid handling platform


assays can help speed up the process of screening compounds against targets. Recent advances in high-content screening (HCS) enable an entire two- colour 96-well plate to be scanned and quantified within just five minutes. “By helping to speed up the profiling of selected


compounds against cellular targets, automation offers more opportunities for downstream applica- tions, such as phenotypic screening,” remarks Manuela Beil-Peter, Director Business Sector Liquid Handling and Automation, Analytik Jena. “As a direct consequence of automation, data improves in quantity and quality, which in return provides high- er quality assays and, in the end, better drugs.” Automated systems can also help to track which


compounds have been screened and when facilitat- ing the management of the huge numbers of com- pounds during primary screening. HCS, for instance, logs all measurements at numerous time points and pharmacological concentrations, and these data can be retrieved at any time during the screening process.


Streamlining complex cellular assays and improving precision Automation helps to streamline the complex and labour-intensive processes typically involved in cell-based assays, including cell seeding, media and buffer exchange, compound and reagent dispens- ing and cell washing. Long-term kinetic assays, for example, require time-consuming cell health main-


24


tenance over days to weeks. Robotic arms can streamline this process by shuttling microplates from incubators to microplate readers. Such auto- mated procedures help to maximise the efficiency and productivity of laboratories, especially as they provide crucial ‘walk-away’ time and allow assays to be performed during evenings and weekends. “The development of integrated platforms, new


features of multi-mode readers and advances in software analysis tools, are now enabling more complex experimental designs and longer term kinetic studies of cells,” says Dr Cristopher Cowan, Senior Technology Manager at Promega. “These more sophisticated assays are improving the reproducibility and robustness of the data to benefit drug discovery.” Automated systems can also improve the relia-


bility of the data by reducing the amount of man- ual handling by technicians. Not only does this eliminate variability associated with human error, it also reduces the risk of contamination, which is more likely to arise through human interactions with equipment. In this way, automated systems ensure the consistent and reproducible perfor- mance of cellular assays, especially as they become more sophisticated.


Tackling the challenges of automated cell-based assays Despite recent advances, adopting automated cell- based assays can still be challenging. Fortunately,


Drug DiscoveryWorld Summer 2019


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