featuring the Echo acoustic technology
TITLES and AUTHORS
Since the introduction of lithotripsy kidney stone therapy, Focused Acoustics and its properties have been thoroughly utilized in medicine and exploration. More recently, Compound Management is exploring its applications and benefits to sample integrity. There are 2 forms of Focused Acoustics: Acoustic Droplet Ejection and Adaptive Focused Acoustics, which work by emitting high-powered acoustic waves through water toward a focused point. This focused power results in noncontact plate-to-plate sample transfer or sample dissolution, respectively. For the purposes of this article, only Adaptive Focused Acoustics will be addressed. Adaptive Focused Acoustics uses high-powered acoustic waves to mix, homogenize, dissolve, and thaw samples. It facilitates transferable samples through noncontact, closed-container, isothermal mixing. Experimental results show significantly reduced mixing times, limited degradation, and ideal use for heat-sensitive compounds. Upon implementation, acoustic dissolution has reduced the number of samples requiring longer mixing times as well as reducing the number impacted by incomplete compound dissolution. It has also helped in increasing the overall sample concentration from 6 to 8 mM to 8 to 10 mM by ensuring complete compound solubilization. The application of Adaptive Focused Acoustics, however, cannot be applied to all Compound Management processes, such as sample thawing and low-volume sample reconstitution. This article will go on to describe the areas where Adaptive Focused Acoustics adds value as well as areas in which it has shown no clear benefit.
It is common knowledge in the pharmaceutical industry that the quality of a company's compound collection has a major influence on the success of biological screening in drug discovery programs. DMSO is the widely accepted solvent of choice for storage of compounds, despite the hygroscopic nature of the solvent, which can lead to stability issues. Other factors that can affect compound stability (e.g., degradation, precipitation) include concentration of compound, intrinsic compound stability, presence of reactive contaminants, storage format-related factors (vessel, sealing, etc.), storage conditions (temperature, humidity, freeze-thaw technique and cycles, etc.), and storage time. To define the best practice for the storage and handling of solution samples, GlaxoSmithKline has undertaken stability experiments over more than a decade, initially to support the implementation of new automated liquid stores (ALS) and, subsequently, to enhance storage and use of compounds in solution through an understanding of compound degradation under storage and assay conditions. The experiments described used a number of technologies, including hyphenated liquid chromatography, electrospray mass spectrometry, flow chemiluminescence nitrogen detection, nuclear magnetic resonance, and Karl Fischer titration.
This report describes the features and the performance of a new and significantly improved 1536-well microplate design. The design allows for simple, automation-friendly, and cost-effective storage of compound solutions for high-throughput screening. The plate design is based on Society for Biomolecular Sciences standards for microplates and can be molded from polystyrene or cycloolefin copolymer, thus making the plate suitable for use with acoustic dispensing as well as other conventional liquid dispensing in the nanoliter range. For a 9:1 DMSO/water mix as solvent, the novel plate design has shown to perform over 4 months with only minor losses in solvent. Thus, this novel plate design creates the basis for further reductions in compound storage volumes and allows for an increase in the storage times for microliter volumes for up to a year or more. The high protection against solvent evaporation is also visible for aqueous solutions, thus allowing for reduced edge effects during screening campaigns.
Recent literature has described the exciting development of a new universal detection technology for high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), as well as some exploratory work on its application to quantitative measurement of solutes at millimolar concentrations. The new methodology, known as charged aerosol detection (CAD), has been recognized as a viable alternative to evaporative light-scattering detection and refractive index detection that, like CAD, respond to molecular structures independently of their absorbance, or lack thereof, in the ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum. In this article, the authors exemplify their use of CAD in-line with HPLC and mass spectrometry (MS) to provide both stand-alone and complementary information that aids decision making for sample storage and processing practices in the compound management setting. Illustrations include monitoring contaminants leached from different plate materials into the solvent dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) and profiling the concentrations of solutions destined for liquid storage and dispensing to assays, with the aim of improving processes.
Preserving the integrity of the compound collection and providing high-quality materials for drug discovery in an efficient and cost-effective manner are 2 major challenges faced by compound management (CM) at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). The demands on CM include delivering hundreds of thousands of compounds a year to a variety of operations. These operations range from single-compound requests to hit identification support and just-in-time assay plate provision for lead optimization. Support needs for these processes consist of the ability to rapidly provide compounds as solids or solutions in a variety of formats, establishing proper long- and short-term storage conditions and creating appropriate methods for handling concentrated, potent compounds for delivery to sensitive biological assays. A series of experiments evaluating the effects of processing compounds with volatile solvents, storage conditions that can induce freeze/thaw cycles, and the delivery of compounds were performed. This article presents the results of these experiments and how they affect compound integrity and the accuracy of compound management processes.
Four years ago, the first acoustic droplet ejectors (ADEs) were launched on the market, providing a new generation of high-throughput noncontact liquid handlers that outclassed traditional contact instruments in almost every respect. This introduction of noncontact dispensing has triggered radical changes to the screening/compound management interface. Higher quality is achieved through greater accuracy and precision, whereas lower sample volumes can be used, and 1536 plate formats have become a reliable reality. Prior to the ADE instrument launch, 1536 assay-ready plate preparation was a high-effort enterprise requiring users to spend time developing liquid-handling methods along with daily fine-tuning of instruments to reach the desired level of performance. By overcoming the nanoliter dispensing hurdle and successfully transferring assays to high-density formats, a new dimension for cutting costs has emerged. Once the screening customer has adapted to this new world, the rules of supply can also change, with the traditional automated plate store no longer being necessary when the compound library can be stored in 1536 plates. Processing efficiency recently has been further supported by innovative new automation-friendly solutions such as plate desealers, prolonging the life span of working plate copies. Both cost and waste control have never had a higher profile, and noncontact dispensing contributes to these important areas. In some processes (e.g., when piercing septa), contact dispensing remains the best option, but cost control is still essential, and an innovative solution to minimize DMSO consumption from tip washing has had a big impact on consumable budget without compromising quality.
Compound handling is a fundamental and critical step in compound screening throughout the drug discovery process. Although most compound-handling processes within compound management facilities use 100% DMSO solvent, conventional methods of manual or robotic liquid-handling systems in screening workflows often perform dilutions in aqueous solutions to maintain solvent tolerance of the biological assay. However, the use of aqueous media in these applications can lead to suboptimal data quality due to compound carryover or precipitation during the dilution steps. In cell-based assays, this effect is worsened by the unpredictable physical characteristics of compounds and the low DMSO tolerance within the assay. In some cases, the conventional approaches using manual or automated liquid handling resulted in variable IC50 dose responses. This study examines the cause of this variability and evaluates the accuracy of screening data in these case studies. A number of liquid-handling options have been explored to address the issues and establish a generic compound-handling workflow to support cell-based screening across our screening functions. The authors discuss the validation of the Labcyte Echo reformatter as an effective noncontact solution for generic compound-handling applications against diverse compound classes using triple-quad liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. The successful validation and implementation challenges of this technology for direct dosing onto cells in cell-based screening is discussed.
The claustrum is a prominent but ill-defined forebrain structure that has been suggested to integrate multisensory information and perhaps transform percepts into consciousness. The claustrum's shape and vague borders have hampered experimental assessment of its functions. We used matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-imaging mass spectrometry to reveal a novel protein marker, G-protein gamma2 subunit (Gng2), which is enriched in the claustrum but not adjacent structures of the rat forebrain. The spatial pattern of Gng2 expression suggests key differences from commonly held views of the claustrum's structure. Using anatomical methods, we found that the rat claustrum is present only at striatal levels of the telencephalon and does not extend to frontal cortical territories. Moreover, the claustrum is surrounded on all sides by layer VI insular cortex cells in both the rat and primate. Using these defining characteristics of the claustrum, we found that the claustrum projects to cortical but not to subcortical sites. The definition of the claustrum as a cortical site is considered. The identification of a claustrum-specific protein opens the door to selective molecular lesions and the subsequent evaluation of the role of the claustrum in cognition.
Disposable plastic labware is ubiquitous in contemporary pharmaceutical research laboratories. Plastic labware is routinely used for chemical compound storage and during automated liquid-handling processes that support assay development, high-throughput screening, structure-activity determinations, and liability profiling. However, there is little information available in the literature on the contaminants released from plastic labware upon DMSO exposure and their resultant effects on specific biological assays. The authors report here the extraction, by simple DMSO washing, of a biologically active substance from one particular size of disposable plastic tips used in automated compound handling. The active contaminant was identified as erucamide ((Z)-docos-13-enamide), a long-chain mono-unsaturated fatty acid amide commonly used in plastics manufacturing, by gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy analysis of the DMSO-extracted material. Tip extracts prepared in DMSO, as well as a commercially obtained sample of erucamide, were active in a functional bioassay of a known G-protein-coupled fatty acid receptor. A sample of a different disposable tip product from the same vendor did not release detectable erucamide following solvent extraction, and DMSO extracts prepared from this product were inactive in the receptor functional assay. These results demonstrate that solvent-extractable contaminants from some plastic labware used in the contemporary pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) environment can be introduced into physical and biological assays during routine compound management liquid-handling processes. These contaminants may further possess biological activity and are therefore a potential source of assay-specific confounding artifacts.
KCC2, a neuronal-specific K-Cl cotransporter, plays a major role in maintaining intracellular Cl− concentration in neurons below its electrochemical equilibrium potential, thus favoring robust GABA hyperpolarizing or inhibitory responses. The pharmacology of the K-Cl cotransporter is dominated by loop diuretics such as furosemide and bumetanide, molecules used in clinical medicine because they inhibit the loop of Henle Na-K-2Cl cotransporter with much higher affinity. To identify molecules that affect KCC2 activity, we developed a fluorescence-based assay suitable for high-throughput screening (HTS) and used the assay to screen a library of 234,000 small molecules. We identified a large number of molecules that either decrease or increase the activity of the cotransporter. Here, we report the characterization of a small number of inhibitors, some of which inhibit KCC2 activity in the submicromolar range without substantially affecting NKCC1 activity. Using medicinal chemistry, we synthesized a number of variants, tested their effect on KCC2 function, and provide an analysis of structure/activity relationships. We also used one of the compounds to demonstrate competitive inhibition in regard to external [K+] versus noncompetitive inhibition in respect to external [Cl−].