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Ion channel electrophysiology - Articles and news items
Issue 3 2007 / 23 May 2007 / Daniel Konrad, Simon Hebeisen, and Urs Thomet, bSys GmbH
Ion channels are well recognised as targets for a vast range of disease states and conditions. The process of discovering drugs is influenced by the biological confidence in the rationale of the screening approach and the screenability. Various methods have been gathered around the gold standard of manual patch-clamping that account for the higher number of datapoints in functional electrophysiology.
Ion channels play key roles in regulating cardiac, neuronal and secretory tissue function. As such, the pharmacological modulation of ion channel activities may provide an effective means to positively impact upon an array of disease states. However, the reliance on low-capacity manually operated electrophysiology screening systems has dictated that ion channels have remained relatively unexploited as drug targets.
As a classically trained electrophysiologist, I shall always remember my first encounter with automated patch clamp at Essen Instruments in June 2002. Essen Instruments had just developed the IonWorks HT, an instrument that can record currents from 48 cells simultaneously and perform up to 384 recordings with a drug addition step in a single 45-minute experiment1,2. This accomplishment coincided with the start of a revolution in the field of ion channel drug discovery.
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