An ion channel library for drug discovery and safety screening on automated platforms

Assay Drug Dev Technol. 2008 Dec;6(6):765-80. doi: 10.1089/adt.2008.171.


Ion channels represent the third largest class of targets in drug discovery after G-protein coupled receptors and kinases. In spite of this ranking, ion channels continue to be under exploited as drug targets compared with the other two groups for several reasons. First, with 400 ion channel genes and an even greater number of functional channels due to mixing and matching of individual subunits, a systematic collection of ion channel-expressing cell lines for drug discovery and safety screening has not been available. Second, the lack of high-throughput functional assays for ion channels has limited their use as drug targets. Now that automated electrophysiology has come of age and provided the technology to assay ion channels at medium to high throughput, we have addressed the need for a library of ion channel cell lines by constructing the Ion Channel Panel (ChanTest Corp., Cleveland, OH). From 400 ion channel genes, a collection of 82 of the most relevant human ion channels for drug discovery, safety, and human disease has been assembled.Each channel has been stably overexpressed in human embryonic kidney 293 or Chinese hamster ovary cells. Cell lines have been selected and validated on automated electrophysiology systems to facilitate cost-effective screening for safe and selective compounds at earlier stages in the drug development process. The screening and validation processes as well as the relative advantages of different screening platforms are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astemizole / pharmacology
  • Astemizole / standards
  • Automation
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Cloning, Organism
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Drug Discovery
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / economics
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Ion Channels / chemistry*
  • Ion Channels / genetics
  • Pimozide / pharmacology
  • Pimozide / standards
  • Terfenadine / pharmacology
  • Terfenadine / standards


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Ion Channels
  • Pimozide
  • Terfenadine
  • Astemizole