The ClonePixFL is unique because decisions are made automatically based on the combination of state-of-the-art imaging with high precision robotics. The system can see what a human cannot see, make decisions upon this and then reliably act upon this vision. Picking a smaller number of colonies, those which are the most productive, saves costs and shortens the development timeline.
The ClonePixFL is suitable for R&D or biopharmaceutical groups involved in the production of biopharmaceuticals and secreted proteins. It enables the selection of cells using quantitative measurements based on the pharmacological properties of affinity and specificity, the criteria that determine whether a drug will succeed or fail. This approach will reduce the time and cost of introducing new biopharmaceutical products.
George Hutchinson, marketing manager, Cell Culture Portfolio at Genetix told DrugResearcher.com: "The success of our ClonePix system allowed us to work with a number of groups involved in the biopharmaceuticals production. The issue of specificity and selectivity were identified as the bottlenecks in the development process and the implications on costs and time in these areas is very obvious."
The original ClonePix removed the initial bottleneck of picking hybridomas and adherent mammalian cells as it could automatically select and pick clones on the basis of physical properties of the colonies such as size, shape and brightness.
However, by adding fluorescence capability with the ClonePixFL, the screening process is integrated within the picking process, so only the highest producing clones that are expressing and, possibly more importantly, secreting, the proteins/antibodies of interest are selected and picked.
"This means more clones can be screened at an earlier stage and only the best are then handed on for further investigation, greatly reducing costs and time to drug," Hutchinson added.
Selection of colonies is further enhanced by the use of advanced imaging, which enables zooming to single cell resolution. Software identifies individual fluorescent clones. Individual clones are picked into 96-well plates using integrated robotics. Genetix claim the transfer rate is better then 95 per cent.
This represents an advance in cell line selection and development. Large populations of cells can be screened, significantly increasing the chance of identifying the best colonies. Using fluorescence labels, ClonePixFL can categorise the cells and pick the superset of highest expressing colonies for subsequent downstream tissue culture.
The features of this technology also make it suitable for gene expression and molecular protein expression groups producing stable cell lines for cell-based screening, assays to detect secreting proteins, gene discovery, assay development, target validation and ADME/Tox.
There are also uses for cancer vaccine companies, picking adherent antigen-presenting cells (dendritic cells) and T-cells
Hutchinson added: "We are unaware of any other instrument that has similar capabilities. The ClonePixFL enables the screening of many thousands of clones and reduces the validation time to a few weeks."
Hutchinson also said he thought the bottleneck would move to cell line management and maintenance. He said: "We currently have something in development in this area, planned for launch later this year."
The instrument was launched at LabAutomation in San Jose, California January 31-February 2, 2005.