Automated Patch Clamp

IonFlux delivers industry-leading flexibility and performance in high throughput patch clamp assays

Patch clamp systems have enhanced our understanding of ion channel function in the brain, heart, and other excitable systems. However, translating this technique to high throughput drug discovery has been hindered by restrictions that limit usability and can be bring sophisticated assays to a halt.
IonFlux from Cell Microsystems is an automated patch clamp system designed to simplify complicated ion channel assays while still performing high quality giga-ohm seal recordings, all in an affordable package. With unique benefits such as in-plate liquid exchange, continuous solution flow and physiological temperature control, high throughput ion channel recordings are possible without any sacrifice in performance and data quality.
Brain Lighter cropped

Ion channels are an important, yet under-served drug target class, making up over one fourth of druggable targets

“Despite their attractiveness as drug discovery targets, ion channels remain an under-exploited target class, which is in large part due to the labor intensive and low-throughput nature of patch-clamp electrophysiology.”

Dunlop, J. et al.
Nature Reviews Drug Discovery: 7, 358-368

It is undeniable that patch clamp technology has advanced biomedical research. By leveraging its sheer recording number, Automated Patch Clamp (APC) systems have revolutionized ion channel research.

The APC market is expected to grow past 650M by 2027 (businesswire.com) with APC systems taking center stage in various laboratories from academics’ facilities, government agencies, and large ion channel screening facilities.

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The progression from manual to Automated

The traditional manual method to patch clamp using glass pipettes was developed by Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann and required a highly skilled technician. The technician would position the glass pipette near a cell and apply the appropriate suction to create an electrical seal between the pipette and the cell membrane. The process, also known as the Gold Standard, is considered one of the most effective way to study ion channel currents.

Patch Clamp Resistance Animation
Single vs ensemble 1
Where manual patch clamp relies on moving a glass pipette to a resting cell, automated patch clamp depends on moving the cells to a fixed trapping junction. Cell Microsystems pioneered the lateral trapping technology pictured to the right, where lateral channels replace the glass pipette. Cell suspension flows past these channels, and suction is used to trap the cells. Configurations include tradition single cell “GigaOhm” recording as well as “ensemble” (grouped) recording. Additional lateral channels are added upstream of the patched cells for automated delivery of compound and wash solutions.
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IonFlux Technology

IonFlux systems utilize SBS standard 96 or 384 well plates with unique custom microfluidics structures. Cells and solutions are driven using a touchless pneumatic pump, with cell trapping at side channels using the traditional manual patch suction technique. This approach eliminates the need for large liquid handlers to move solutions during an experiment. This unique approach delivers  millisecond solution exchange and continuous flow for compound washout.

Microfluidics
Plate Filling

With a simple plate reader design, IonFlux technology make patch clamp recordings accessible and easy, requiring no more than pipetting skills or any liquid handler to run a full assay. Before an experiment, different solutions are inserted into specific wells on the plate. All solution movement is pneumatically driven within the plate.

Solutions are programmed to flow sequentially, separated by complete washing with extra-cellular solution. The rapid continuous flow delivers fast solution exchange and facilitates otherwise unachievable ligand-gated and voltage-gated assays. 

Cell Patching

With a simple plate reader design, IonFlux technology make patch clamp recordings accessible and easy, requiring no more than pipetting skills or any liquid handler to run a full assay. Before an experiment, different solutions are inserted into specific wells on the plate. All solution movement is pneumatically driven within the plate.

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IonFlux Application Areas

Due to its unique liquid exchange system, IonFlux is the ideal platform for ligand binding, allosteric modulation, multiple agonists, and voltage- and temperature-sensitive assays. It is used in laboratories and research centers worldwide for various voltage gated and ligand gated ion channels assays.

Recent Research with IonFlux: NMDAR & Schizophrenia

Glycine transporters (GlyT1 and GlyT2) are essential targets for the therapy of brain illnesses with decreased NMDAR function, such as schizophrenia. Other amino acid transporters produced in the brain may be able to modulate brain glycine levels and NMDAR activity, although this remains unknown. SLC6A20A, an amino acid transporter known to transport proline in vitro but understudied in the brain, modulates proline and glycine levels as well as NMDAR function in the mouse brain.
recent research with ionflux nmdar schizophrenia