High throughput (HT) screening expert IonGate has joined forces with liquid handling quality assurance leader Artel to support its drug discovery research technology in the US.
Germany-based IonGate Biosciences will use Artel's US infrastructure and strong customer relationships to increase exposure and use of its drug discovery systems and assay development services in North America.
The partnership will focus on IonGate's SURFE2R Technology (Surface Electrogenic Event Reader) that enables the activity of drug targets such as membrane transporters and ligand-gated ion channels to be screened efficiently.
Membrane transporters are essential for the metabolic functions of the cell and play a fundamental role in organism health. IonGate believes these targets are underrepresented in current drug screening processes due to their difficult experimental accessibility.
The SURFE2R technology uses a nanomembrane sensor to directly measure the activity of electrically-active membrane proteins, drastically increasing productivity in the drug development process compared to traditional electrophysiology methods.
After adsorbing membrane fragments or vesicles containing electrically-active membrane proteins onto a specially treated sensor surface, their activity is directly measured by means of an electrical measurement, abolishing the need to use fluorescent dyes or radioactive markers.
"Transporter-focused drug discovery initiatives are poised for rapid growth worldwide, and the US demand for our SURFE2R Technology is rising," said Dr Thiemo Gropp, managing director of IonGate.
"With Artel's support and market expertise, we will be able to deliver the same personalized support to our customers in North America as we deliver to our customers in Europe."
According to IonGate, the systems are becoming increasingly valuable for studies across a variety of applications, from early-stage screening, ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) studies and core fundamental studies. Additionally, because the method is 'label-free' the results are more functionally relevant than many label-based methodologies where protein activity can be altered by the label.
This is the first distribution and support partnership that Artel has entered into and is not initially an obvious alliance, with Artel's expertise being in providing tools and services for the quality assurance of liquid handling devices.
However, Artel's CEO, Kirby Pilcher explained to LabTechnologist.com that one of the keys to the SURFE2R system's high performance comes from the system's ability to accurately control liquid flow in a delivery process taking just fractions of a second.
He also commented that "it is often not the technology, but how it is supported that determines whether a product succeeds or not. A lot of our customers have told us they will choose a product not only for the technology, but the level of service and support that is offered with it."
"Artel delivers exceptional customer service and technical support to users of our liquid handling quality assurance technology and we look forward to providing the same level of support to customers of IonGate's SURFE2R technology."
With pharmaceutical companies underperforming with regards to the time and cost of bringing new drugs to market, IonGate is seeing increased use of its systems in ADME studies during the early stages of the development process.
Pilcher believes that this is due to a realisation that: "to reach their productivity targets, pharma will need to 'build quality into' their methods, rather than correct downstream for errors made much earlier, upstream."
This should lead to researchers gaining valuable viability data much earlier during the discovery process freeing up resources to deliver greater productivity.
"We believe that in their pursuit of greater productivity, the drug firms who choose to implement IonGate SURFE2R technology in ADME will net great synergies by also taking advantage of Artel's proven strengths in quality management," said Pilcher
"In the end, it all boils down to quality: quality processes, quality data, quality results."