The development of new drugs is a long and tedious process. Chemists come up with new libraries of molecules which biologists test to see whether these generate some kind of cellular response. Promising agents become models for further chemical development, and the process continues repeatedly until promising candidates for animal trials are found.
Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have now developed a chip that allows scientists to perform chemical synthesis and immediately follow up by testing the resulting compounds on live cells. The technology is fast and can be automated. It also requires smaller amounts of chemical solvents, reactants, and cell suspensions.
The new capability should speed up a good portion of the drug development process, allowing for drugs to come to market earlier while lowering the cost required to invent new ones.
From the study abstract in Nature Communications:
The chemBIOS platform is compatible with both organic solvents required for synthesis and aqueous solutions necessary for biological screenings. We used the chemBIOS platform to perform 75 parallel, three-component reactions to synthesize a library of lipidoids, followed by characterization via MALDI-MS, on-chip formation of lipoplexes, and on-chip cell screening. The entire process from the library synthesis to cell screening takes only 3 days and about 1 mL of total solution, demonstrating the potential of the chemBIOS technology to increase efficiency and accelerate screening and drug development.
Study in Nature Communications: Marrying chemistry with biology by combining on-chip solution-based combinatorial synthesis and cellular screening
Image: Array of microdroplets with various reactants on the chemBIOS chip-based synthesis platform. (Credit: Maximilian Benz, KIT)