This surge in demand is attributed to the accurate representation of the real-life cell model cell-based assays can offer. In addition, the cell-based assays offer the possibility of a dynamic experiment through monitoring of the numbers or behaviour of the live cells.
New target screening often requires the use of cells and various assay kits to detect specific cellular pathways. Insights from these assays could help more efficient discovery of effective drugs, thus saving time and costs as well as the need for future secondary screens.
Frost and Sullivan's latest report focuses on the strategic analysis of the cell-based assays market in Europe. The study cited primary growth drivers as drug discovery leads, optimisation that enables access to new target groups, early failure that reduces costs due to false leads and acquisition of customised assay kits and reagents.
According to the market researchers, it expected to see the expansion of cell-based assays, especially in lead evaluation and optimisation as well as preclinical evaluation.
"Large multinational companies are seeking to perform screens in cell-based systems because they ensure precise whole cell data representative of the physiological condition," commented Dr. Amarpreet Dhiman, research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
The emphasis now for assay manufacturers is to develop easy-to-use and highly sensitive assays that provide continuous records of cellular activity. The fear now is processes, particularly high throughput screening (HTS) using cell-based assays, will become increasingly complicated, requiring more complex solutions.
The report highlights the need for scientists to stay in touch with the latest technological advancements and assay methodologies as the challenges of cell-based screening in drug discovery are set to heighten. The implementation of new drug target classes in several drug discovery operations is propelling cell-based activities to new levels of performance.
The report also noted the need for cell-based assay kits to undergo comprehensive safety testing, especially for the myocardial hERG k+ channel. Since it is the target responsible for the cardiotoxicity of many drugs, it should be screened early in the drug discovery process.
It is also important to integrate robotics into assay development to achieve high screening rates, which will, in turn, reduce time-consuming and costly manual interventions.
The $143 million (€106 million) European cell-based assays market is expected to benefit most from the fluorescence assays segment, which could contribute more than $75 million (€56 million) in revenue in 2004.
Fluorescence-based cellular assays will remain the dominant detection method in the market through 2009, according to the report, and improvements in novel detection methods - such as bio/chemiluminescence - are not expected to greatly impact the market over the next five years. However, they represent an improvement in sensitivity and durability over current fluorescent techniques
The report concluded estimated total growth rate of 19 per cent in 2004 could increase simultaneously with expansion of the HTS industry.