LIVC technology: A glowing review

New tech allows ion channels to be switched on or off simply by exposing the cells to light

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FRANKFURT, Germany—IonGateBiosciences GmbH and LIVC Technologies GmbH, both located in Frankfurt, Germany, in earlySeptember announced a collaboration deal for jointly developing and marketingthe proprietary light-induced voltage clamp (LIVC) technology, a proprietarytechnology that can initiate and measure voltage-activated ion channels vialight induction. The companies describe it as working "similar to a remotecontrol" and adding that it "ensures high precision and high throughput withmaximum flexibility." Financial terms and other specifics of the businessarrangement have not yet been released.

LIVC introduces a voltage activation source into cellsexpressing voltage-gated ion channels, explains Wolfgang Lerch, managingdirector of IonGate. "This allows activation of these targets under fullyphysiological conditions," he notes. "This can be done today only by usingautomated patch clamp, which still has a very limited throughput. By usingfluorescence detection this high-quality assay can be coupled to highthroughput. The result is a dramatically increased assay quality with increasedthroughput and reduced assay cost."

The use of the LIVC technology will lead to a suite ofproducts ranging from expression kits to fully characterized, ready-to-screenassay kits," Lerch says. In collaboration with partners, dye-sets andinstrumentation will be made available.

The companies also plan to combine the LIVC technology withIonGate's SurfE2R (Surface Electrogenic Event Reader) workstation, whichmeasures the activity of cell transporters and ion pumps by detecting electriccharges.

The companies plan to have their first product offeringstoward the second half of 2008, but because they will work in closecollaboration with various customers on the new technology, some companies willlikely have access to tailored products before wider market entry of new offerings.

Lerch says LIVC constitutes a high-quality, high-throughputscreening technology for voltage-gated ion channels that will be particularlyuseful in drugs for neurological conditions, the heart and similarapplications.

"These channels are known to be excellent targets in variousdisease areas such as CNS and cardiovascular diseases," he says. "Theseindication areas will be able to revolutionize their discovery process byincreasing the primary screening information content and thereby reducingsubsequent research steps significantly."

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