In an article recently published In Vivo: Business & Medicine Report, author Mark Ratner writes about the growing use of high-throughput cell screening to identify combinations of therapeutics that are effective against cancer.
According to the article, new advances in sample handling technology and in computational biology have allowed scientists to generate more meaningful results from these high-throughput screens than was ever possible before. (Indeed, the strategy “failed to predict response to therapy” in the past, Ratner writes.) But new results, particularly from leukemia, indicate that cell-based screening has become a viable method for choosing which therapies to use for a particular patient.
The author points to acoustic liquid handling as one of the major innovations for cell screening. This approach “enables the transfer of nanoscale amounts of material, reduces errors in readouts of drug concentration and potency and provides more reproducible results,” Ratner explains. The nanoliter-scale of acoustic liquid handling reduces the cost of these assays and makes it possible to test more combinations of compounds than with traditional instruments.
Errors in drug potency are not uncommon in high-throughput screening. Ratner cites a 2014 Cancer Research paper finding that many of these problems are associated with pipette-based liquid handlers: serial dilutions and dispensing with these robots can introduce significant error in drug potency readings, far more significantly than is seen with acoustic liquid handlers, according to the study.
The article also includes lots of great information from scientists who use acoustic liquid handlers as well as from specific drug discovery examples. We think the article is well worth a read, so we’ve purchased reprint rights so you can read it here if you don’t have a subscription.