Human biological systems are complex, consisting of genes, proteins, cells and other components working together in intricate networks needed to sustain life. Genomics and proteomics provide important clues to understanding the biology of disease, but alone do not provide a complete picture.
A deeper understanding of the biology of disease can be derived by directly examining cells, and cell constituents, to systematically determine both the disease genotype and the drug response phenotypes. Cell-based assays that measure processes within individual cells and multiplex bead-based assays that measure the interactions of components of cells such as individual proteins are critical for understanding disease mechanisms. Cell-based assays have played an increasingly important role in drug discovery, driven largely by advances in cell analysis tools such as high content imaging, flow cytometry, and fluorescent probes. Finding an initial niche in secondary screening as well as toxicity testing, cell-based technologies today are ubiquitous throughout the drug discovery process.
Multiplex bead-based assays yield a wealth of information on the roles of multiple proteins and other biomolecules in diverse biological processes, providing insight into the identification and assessment of disease progression. While bead-based assays have gained widespread use later in the drug development process and in clinical diagnostics, they have not been used much in large scale screening applications due to reagent cost for the large number of samples needed to screen a compound library and lack of available high throughput tools to analyze them. In addition, the ability to combine bead-based assays with cell-based assays in the same well, provides new insight such as simultaneously measuring cell function and protein secretion.
R. Terry Dunlay
President and CEO, IntelliCyt Corporation