Use of automated patch clamp in cardiac safety assessment: past, present and future perspectives
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There is no doubt that automated patch clamp (APC) technology has revolutionized research in biomedical science. High throughput ion channel screening is now an integral part of the development and safety profiling of the majority of new chemical entities currently developed to address unmet medical needs. The increased throughput it provides has significantly improved the ability to overcome the time-consuming, low throughput bottlenecks resulting from the more conventional manual patch clamp method, considered the ‘gold standard’, for studying ion channel function and pharmacology. While systems offering the luxury of automation have only been commercially available for two decades, the road leading to this new technology is long and rich in seminal, hands-on, studies dating back as far as the 18th century. So where does this technology currently stand, and what will it look like in the future? In the current article, we review the scientific history leading to the development of APC systems, examine key drivers in the rapid development of this technology (such as failed ion channel programmes and the issue of drug-induced hERG inhibition and QT interval prolongation), highlight key capabilities and finally provide some perspective on the current and future impact of the technology on cardiac safety assessment and biomedical science.