The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) has automated the production of low-volume, assay-ready microplates.
The Access workstation incorporates the Labcyte Echo liquid handler— a platform using acoustic liquid transfer in a compact robotic plate-handling system to enable walk-away production of low-volume, assay-ready plates.
To identify drug candidates, researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research in London screen large compound libraries and fragment libraries through biochemical and/or cell-based assays.
The ability of the Echo liquid handler to build dose-response curves from the direct-transfer stock samples at high concentrations eliminates the propagation of error typically seen with methods requiring stocks to be aqueous and/or serially diluted beforehand.
Lower assay volume makes the effort required to transition to higher-density 384- and 1536-well formats significantly easier. Taking the steps towards miniaturisation was a key part of improving screening efficiency at the ICR.
“The Access workstation is used to cherry pick directly from high-concentration stocks for confirmation and IC50 determination, without requiring any aqueous dilution,” said Dr. Rosemary Burke, senior staff scientist leading the assay group at the ICR.
“Additionally, acoustic dispensing directly into cell plates allowed us to move from time-consuming 96-well cell proliferation assays to 384-well assays.”
Beyond the initial step of miniaturising primary screens of their compound libraries, the ICR has used the Access workstation in the development and miniaturization of biophysical assays with complex reagent mixtures.
Depending on the project, the hits from primary biochemical and/or cell-based screens are further investigated in biophysical assays before elucidation of their binding mode using X-ray crystallography.
Researchers at the ICR use the Access workstation to automate experiments exploring a range of assay conditions in efforts to lower reagent consumption.
Dr. Rob van Montfort, leader of the hit discovery and structural design team, added: “For example, we have already used the Echo liquid handler and Access workstation to explore multiple buffer conditions to miniaturise protein thermal-shift assays.”