An Overview of Cell Based Assay Development and Its Uses
An Overview of Cell Based Assay Development and Its Uses

For decades, cell-based assays have been used to determine how a particular drug, once administered, will affect an organism. They have emerged as an effective method for discovering biological drugs for pharmaceutical use. Cell-based assays can serve as a viable alternative for biological drug discovery that complements a variety of other technologies as well.

Traditionally, cell-based assays had been used as a means for the secondary screening of new drugs. However, these days, the assays are being used more and more frequently as the primary method of drug discovery and screening.

When it comes to vetting different types of compounds and testing the way in which they affect tissues, cell-based assays have no equals. Increasingly, scientists and researchers are making use of these assays to collect data about biological targets as well as to identify and evaluate pathways in the entire cell.

Eliminating noise and variability from the screening of cell-based assays has always been a priority for researchers. To achieve this and improve the performance of the assay, a comprehensive understanding of the process, due consideration, and nuanced manipulations of the system might be required. In order to develop and implement a successful cell-based assay, there are some factors that need to be considered carefully.

Essential Factors in the Process of Cell Based Assay Development

Now that the uses and importance of cell-based assay development have been made clear, it is time to understand the various factors that can determine the success or failure of such an assay. Keeping these factors in mind when performing the assay will improve exponentially the chances of success.

  • The Cell Types: The type of cell chosen for the assay will help determine the outcome of the test. Experimenting with primary cells and cell lines can lead to differing biomarkers, which may in turn affect the outcome of the assay. Primary cells like HUVECs and hepatocytes are hard to grow and transfect. On the other hand, the high metabolic rates of cell lines make them perfect for cell vitality assays that are performed with the help of a metabolite.

  • The Edge Effect: Uncontrolled edge effects may minimize the efficacy of cell-based assays. This is because high plate rejection might be caused by edge effects during the screen runs. Keeping copies of the tissue samples, maintaining consistency in the temperature, and monitoring the position, order, and timing of the plates in the incubator are some of the ways in which edge effects can be minimized or avoided altogether.

  • Cell Death Process: For successful cell-based assay development, understanding the death process of a cell is a must. One cannot choose the right cell type for an assay without understanding the fundamentals of cell apoptosis, also known as the death process of a biological cell. Clear understanding of this process will facilitate the selection of the right endpoint and experimental design, thus improving the odds of success.

  • Avoiding Contamination: Common contaminants such as mold, bacteria, and foreign cells must be avoided when cell-based assay development is underway. Inconsistent and irreproducible assay results might be the outcome of unrecognized or overlooked contamination. The plates should be properly covered before being incubated and all equipment, such as pipettes and media bottles, should be cleaned with alcohol prior to the test.

  • Pipetting Errors: Cell death, false cytotoxicity, and poor health are some of the possible consequences of pipetting errors when it comes to cell-based assay development. The cells must be evenly distributed during the preparation of frozen aliquots, from one well to another. The process requires much care and precision, and the proper calibration of the tools, so as to avoid mistakes while handling experimental data and pipetting.

  • Assay Control: No experimental assay design can be successful without the inclusion of control, which is needed to determine whether or not the assay is working as it should. Researchers can also use the control samples to study the variables in the samples and compare data. Positive and negative controls, untreated cell control, no cell control are some of the available variations when it comes to assay control options.

  • Cell Density: All the samples being used for cell-based assay development must have uniform cell density if the goal is to achieve accurate estimations of assay range, data, and sensitivity. Higher detection sensitivity can be caused by lower than expected cell density. On the other hand, extremely high cell density will lead to more intense background signals, which will, in turn, compromise the validity and usefulness of the assay.

In Conclusion

Mentioned above are some of the factors that need to be considered to ensure successful cell-based assay development. For the best results, however, companies should engage the services of a reputed laboratory known for performing complex assays and tests with the help of experienced professionals and world-class technology.

Being a medical assistant, I keep myself up to date with the latest happenings in the world of medicine. I'm also an active blogger & love to share my knowledge.
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