Cell-based assays

Understanding cell physiology in the presence of pharmaceutical reagents

Introduction

Cell-based assays play a pivotal role in understanding cell physiology in the presence of pharmaceutical reagents in both healthy and diseased states and have been an important pillar of drug discovery. Frequently, cell-based assays are used in high throughput screening (HTS) of compound libraries. New assay platforms are evolving rapidly to address increasingly complex biological challenges—mimicking disease biology, preserving signaling pathways, modelling drug responses and recreating environments conducive to tissue development. Such assays are based on traditional cell culture methods with the possibility of measuring various functional activities like proliferation, toxicity, changes in morphology or gene expression.

While the majority of available assays are based on traditional 2D cell culture, 3D cell culture systems are increasingly adopted to reduce large-scale and high-cost animal testing. At CELLINK, we provide innovative technologies to simplify cell-based assays and increase automation. In addition, as the world leader in bioprinting, we are able to offer a variety of technologies that help our customers transition from traditional 2D cell culture to 3D systems.

Multiplexed low-volume dispensing for high-throughput screening

High-throughput screening (HTS) of compound libraries, reagent compositions or drug concentrations requires accurate and fast liquid handling technology. Our I-DOT non-contact low-volume dispensing technology was designed to address the most complex liquid-handling tasks with unrivaled speed. The system can readily dispense into standard microwell plates including 1536 and higher density formats. Low-volume dispensing down to the single-digit nanoliter range, no need for pipette tips and best-in-class precision helps you save reagent and consumable costs, increase reproducibility and raise the Z prime value of your assay.

Precise and gentle cell dispensing

Key for automating cell-based assays is an equal distribution of cells into hundreds or thousands of microwells. Mammalian cells often tend to sediment in dispensing nozzles or pipette tips. Our I-DOT and I-DOT Mini instruments allow for fast and gentle cell dispensing without impacting viability. Common applications include the distribution of adherent cells into culture well plates or dispensing cancer cells for tumor spheroid formation.

MORE PHYSIOLOGICALLY RELEVANT MODELS

Traditional assays are based on cultivating cells in a 2D monolayer. Despite the advantages with respect to high-throughput screening and automation, these systems often do not reflect all relevant aspects that cells experience in vivo. At CELLINK, we offer entire solutions for building and analyzing more physiologically relevant 3D tissue models with our bioprinters and ready-to-use bioinks. Our team of bioprinting experts are able to support you in setting up reproducible and automated workflows, from generating 3D tissue models to image-based readout and data analysis.

Automated monitoring of cellular assays

Live-cell imaging lets scientists monitor the dynamic of cellular phenotype particularly when the endpoint of the assay is unknown. Our CELLCYTE X imaging system offers live-cell imaging for online tracking of cell behavior in response to various compounds. The imager contains three fluorescent channels, which enable flexibility with common fluorescent-based measurements used in assay development.

The device is compact and readily fits in an incubator for time-lapse cell imaging. The system significantly increases walk-away time and helps you automate cell-based assays. CELLINK’s cloud-based software delivers remote monitoring without the risk of disturbing an experiment. In addition, our machine-learning algorithms allow for automated analysis of cell proliferation, cell viability, cell migration and other common assays.

Related publications

Marrying chemistry with biology by combining on-chip solution-based combinatorial synthesis and cellular screening

Author(s): Elfi Töpfera, Anna Pasottia, Aikaterini Telopouloua, Paola Italianib, Diana Boraschib, Marie-Ann Ewarta, Colin Wildea

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

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