Fast and accurate determination of a candidate compound’s IC50 or EC50 provides drug discovery biologists with valuable information for the development of new pharmaceuticals, yet traditional techniques are both time-consuming and laborious. For what might be considered a standard protocol, there is also a surprising amount of diversity in how these titrations are performed. This is because, until now, researchers have had to make a compromise, balancing quality of data with productivity, throughput and cost. Each laboratory makes a different trade-off, and so performs titration in surprisingly different ways.
Tecan and HP have joined forces to standardize drug titrations – radically improving quality, throughput and cost, as well as eliminating variability between operators – by introducing direct digital titration with the HP D300 Digital Dispenser. Using technology originally developed for inkjet printing, this convenient benchtop solution requires almost no set-up time, and allows rapid delivery of picoliter to microliter doses to any well of a microplate. This has the potential to eliminate manual serial dilutions for small molecules in DMSO; saving time, minimizing waste of valuable compounds and accelerating drug discovery.
Early adopters of this system are already seeing the benefits of digital titration for drug discovery research and, as researchers become familiar with the technology, we are likely to see it being used for more and more applications. Digital titration is also enabling new science that was previously impractical, allowing study of drug-drug combinations as a potential avenue for new therapeutics and the use of finely-spaced dosing for even more accurate IC50 data. Our understanding of many of these interactions is being advanced simply by learning faster; you can now go from theory to experiment to results very quickly. By enabling more experiments to be performed with the same limited resources, direct digital titration allows higher risk experiments to be carried out earlier in the drug discovery process, potentially offering greater rewards.