Cellectricon will integrate Tecella’s Richmond patch-clamp amplifier with its DynaFlow HT platform, which is scheduled to be commercially available in 2009, Tecella said this week.
Incorporating the resistance-compensation circuitry and low-capacitance, high-gain, head-switching architecture will turn the DynaFlow HT into a high-throughput system optimized to record from both ligand-gated and voltage-gated channels, including sodium channels.
"Richmond was an ideal fit for the DynaFlow HT," Mattias Karlsson, CTO of Cellectricon, said in a statement. "It offers the performance, high channel count, and flexibility necessary to realize the full potential of our new platform."
“We hope to bring the higher-quality data from high-content screens into the high-throughput market,” Tecella CEO Yoke Tanaka told CBA News this week. “Right now, you really do not have a choice. You either do high-throughput or high-content. We are trying to move high-content data into higher throughput.”
Many of the currently available, high-end amplifiers are very expensive and very large, and the lower-end amplifiers “just do not have the performance,” Tanaka said. Tecella wanted to design a high-performance amplifier that is small enough so that it could run many channels, he added.
“We look at this purely as a numbers game,” said Tanaka. For instance, “on a good day,” one patch-clamp amplifier can get 50 experimental data points in an 8-hour day, he said. However, millions of compounds exist, so “the more patch clamp amplifier channels that are out there, the faster the drug-discovery process.” For example, 1,000 patch clamp amplifiers can do 50,000 data points a day, and 10,000 patch clamp amplifiers can do 500,000 data points a day.
“We are applying the electronics industry’s economies of scale to our products; therefore, we focus on high-channel count systems,” Tanaka said.
He pointed out that Tecella’s primary goal is to “place 1,000 patch-clamp amplifier channels in the field per year,” because those channels alone will be able to go through 12 million compounds in a year.
He also said that Tecella now has a prototype of the amplifier for the DynaFlow HT system, and is in the process of working with Cellectricon.
Cellectricon was unavailable for comment before deadline.
“Right now, you really do not have a choice. You either do high-throughput or high-content. We are trying to move high-content data into higher-throughput.”
Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Tecella was founded in 2007. The company supplies HTS/UHTS measurement systems for drug discovery and pre-clinical research that comprise a highly scalable amplifier architecture.
“We are an engineering-focused company,” said Tanaka. “Our background is in semiconductors and aerospace engineering.” Tecella currently employs six people, four of whom, including Tanaka, are engineers.
“Our goal is to apply our engineering experience to provide innovative solutions to the HTS market, in collaboration with companies like Cellectricon,” said Tanaka.
Prior to founding Tecella, several of its members worked at Panasonic. “At the time, Panasonic was considering entering the automated patch clamp market with its own system,” said Tanaka.
The Japanese electronics giant later decided against it, however. At that point, Tecella’s founders determined that the APC market looked lucrative, and decided that they were capable of producing “a very good product, something that is not available today,” said Tanaka.
In the 15 months since it was founded, the company has released two products: the Triton 8-channel whole cell patch-clamp amplifier and the Jet 128-channel patch-clamp amplifier.
Both the Triton and the Jet feature Tecella’s ExtenCell hardware and software technology.
“We hope to have several more product announcements this summer,” Tanaka said.
Last October, Tecella said on its web site that it had inked a development contract with an undisclosed “ion channel HTS tools company” to provide a fully automated, miniaturized 96-channel patch-clamp amplifier.
All hardware — both analog and digitizer — firmware, and software development is done in-house, said Tanaka.
“Our products are not only used for whole-cell patch clamp, but also for lipid bilayers and oocytes,” said Tanaka.
Tecella serves both the OEM market and the end-user market. How the company expands over the next several years depends on which market’s business grows more rapidly, said Tanaka.
“If the OEM market business grows, we will hire more people on the technical side; if the end-user business grows, we will hire more people on the field support or tech support side,” he said.