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FP7

PHARMEA — Result In Brief

Project ID: 232554
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Switzerland

A better way to measure electrophysiological signals

Measuring electrophysiological signals is important when examining cardiac and central nervous system drugs, but we lack a high-throughput system for this process. A recent project has thus developed a high-throughput, multi-electrode array prototype for use in drug discovery.
A better way to measure electrophysiological signals
Ion channels are proteins in cell membranes that control the flow of charged particles or ions across many cells and regulate cell volume. In the cardiac and central nervous system (CNS) and cardiovascular tissue, ion channels are implicated in a wide range of disorders, and as such, are attractive drug targets. Measuring electrophysiological signals is an important part of drug discovery, but it has been limited by low-throughput techniques.

To address this issue, an EU-funded project, PHARMEA, has created a prototype high-throughput system based on multi-electrode array (MEA) technology. This research brought together several research groups and small companies to develop, test and commercialise the novel system.

The project aimed to build a novel MEA platform with a graphical user interface, a full software package and real-time data analysis. These features expand the number of electrodes that can be used simultaneously, and the system can be tailored for drug screening applications.

The project developed a prototype that can measure electrophysiological signals in cell culture or tissue slices, in multiple simultaneous experiments, based on a 256-electrode biochip. The system was validated via drug safety experiments as well as a model drug screening process, and it functioned according to expectations. Furthermore, it was shown to be non-invasive and repeatable.

The PHARMEA prototype was constructed and successfully tested at the laboratory scale, and it is now ready for further development, into a commercial system. The platform shows great potential for easing bottlenecks in drug discovery and reducing the use of animals for drug trials.

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