Microcalimeter technology advances real-time cellular bioenergetics measurements

Published: 20-Mar-2015

Symcel’s technology opens new avenues in cancer research, diagnostics and anti-tumour drug development

SymCel, the company behind a cell-based assay tool that provides real-time cellular bioenergetics measurements, has announced the publication of scientific data derived from its microcalimeter technology in The Biotechnology Journal.

The company’s calScreener system, equipped with a novel vessel holder, similar to a 48-well plate, provides the increased throughput essential for use in bioassays.

The technology accurately quantifies the metabolism of tumorous micro-tissues, bacteria and worm parasites. This technique provides real-time information on metabolic activity and provides the life science community with a new tool that highlights unique biological information.

The research indicates that this microcalimeter is a valuable asset for both biomedical and pharmaceutical applications. The findings open up multiple new research avenues across cancer research, diagnostics and the development of new anti-tumour drugs, the company said.

In the experiments, heat production rates by the living organisms under examination were sufficient to produce detectable signals with time. Throughout the research, the isothermal microcalorimeter, with its well-plate format sample holder, provided highly reproducible and accurate data.

The new screening approach, when applied to the susceptibility of tumours to anti-tumour agents, provides a cost-saving alternative to selecting the best possible chemotherapy and aids the development of personalised medicine based in tumour biopsies.

The results showed that the technology can easily monitor the overall viability and growth of cancer micro-tissues time without disrupting them while the assay was done. The label-free and passive nature of isothermal calorimetry makes accurate measurements on complex 3D structures, such as micro-tissues, possible, which can’t be done with conventional assays.

Christer Wallin, CEO of Symcel, said: ‘The findings of the scientific data clearly demonstrate that a well plate instrument, combining the throughput of well plate assays with the sensitivity of isothermal calorimetry, has strong applicability to the fields of microbiology, oncology and parasitology.’

‘In particular, the technique and our CalScreener technology has shown itself to be a highly accurate and reliable assay that monitors the metabolic activity of cancerous micro-tissues. Moreover, it represents a uniquely versatile technology, as we are independent of cell morphology and can monitor cells in 2D, 3D as well as in tissue samples, bringing innovation to the life science research market that is in such strong demand to bridge early in vitro data to better predictive in vivo models.’

Oliver Braissant, researcher at the University Hospital of Basel, and lead investigator in the studies said: ‘The research shows that isothermal microcalorimetry is a highly versatile and user friendly test that complements existing tools in microbiology while, at the same time, enhancing the ability to monitor metabolic activity and thereby generating highly useful results.’

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