Amaxa, a Cologne, Germany-based transfection technologies company, recently announced that it will coordinate a European collaboration of eight partners to develop a device for ultra high-throughput delivery and screening of primary human cells.
The 36-month project, which has received €2.8 million ($3.7 million) in funding from the European Commission, will use Amaxa’s Nucleofector technology to develop the devices, which the partners said will be the first technology for HTS in efficiently transfected and differentiated primary cells.
Nucleofector technology is used to transfect DNA, siRNA, or small molecules into either the cytoplasm or the nucleus of target cells. According to Amaxa, cells of interest are harvested and combined with a mixture of cell type-specific Nucleofector solution and supplement.
The DNA or siRNA are added, and the mixture is transferred to a cuvette. The cuvette is placed in a Nucleofector device where electric parameters and the cell type-specific solution are combined.
When the cuvette is removed, it is rinsed with 500 µL of culture medium, and the nucleofected cells are transferred to a culture dish. Depending on cell type, expression is detectable within three to eight hours, and analysis can be done the same day.
The other partners in the 36-month project, called MODEST-EU, are Germany-based Deutsches Rheumaforschungszentrum (DRFZ) and RNAx; Protobios, based in Estonia; Fotec Forschungs-und Technologietransfer and HTP High Tech Plastics, both based in Austria; Dominion Pharmakine from Spain; and Prevas, based in Sweden.
Prevas will be responsible for building the device from proof-of-principle through prototype; Fotec will develop the production process for microplates; and HTP will help make prototypes of the 384-well plates.
The application of nucleofection and cell-based assays will be assessed by: DRFZ (cell sorting and multiparameter flow-cytometry), RNAx (RNAi technology), Protobios (nervous system development and transcription regulation network), and Dominion Pharmakine (biomarkers related to site specific development of liver metastasis).
The first goal of the alliance is to develop the equipment and plasticware to be used with this technology, according to Claus-Dietmar Pein, Amaxa’s director of marketing. The Nucleofector technology has been on the market for about three years in single-well and 96-well formats.
“Once the ultra-HTS device has been developed, the project will study the application of this technology in the areas of immunology, neurology, and hepatology.”
The technology would need to be tested on the newly developed product. This testing should start within 18 months. The MODEST-EU collaborators would work with as-yet unidentified partners in the pharmaceutical industry in about 24 months to alpha-test the technology.
RNAx will develop protocols for transfecting human T-cells using the new device, according to RNAx CEO Joerg Poetzsch.
”When the first prototype is ready, then our role will begin,” said Poetzsch. “When the protocols are ready, they will be delivered by Amaxa to the customers, so that they can apply the technology to T-cell transfection.”
Once the ultra-HTS device has been developed, the project will study its application in the areas of immunology, neurology, and hepatology.
The next step would be to look for other potential applications, said Pein. There are other assays that could be adapted for use with this technology, such as getting proteins or peptides into cells, which is not a part of the current project but is something that could be done afterwards, he said.
Prevas did not respond to a request for comment by press time.