Drug Discovery 2022: driving the next life science revolution

Improved Sustainability Through the Use of Assay Ready Cells to Support Ion Channel Screening


H JenningsK RockleyK JonesMA MaizieresMJ Morton
1 ApconiX , UK


Each year the consumables and equipment required for day-to-day cell culture generates tons of plastic waste, which cannot be reused or recycled. This results in a significant impact to the environment and increases the cost of running a lab [1]. Our work in ion channel screening means we rely heavily on single-use plastics which carry a financial and environmental cost and contribute to our carbon footprint. It has been estimated that each month our cell culture department generates an average of 80kg of consumable and plastic waste. In addition, recycling plants won’t accept lab waste due to contamination.

One solution is to use assay ready cells in place of continuous cell culture. These cells are frozen and stored at high density and thawed immediately prior to assay, eliminating the need for prolonged culture. In this study we generated assay ready cell lines expressing a number of different ion channels and tested their performance on automated patch-clamp platforms. These cells showed excellent viability and functional activity, comparable to live cultured cells. In addition, the use of assay ready cells on automated patch-clamp systems has allowed us to streamline laboratory processes, halving the time it would usually take to generate client drug safety data. These steps have minimised the amount of plastic waste generated from cell culture by ~50% over the last 6 months. Extended testing is ongoing to confirm the reproducibility of these highly functional assay ready cell lines, and to implement these methods across all cell lines used at ApconiX. 

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