QPatch: the past, present and future of automated patch clamp
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The QPatch 16 significantly increases throughput for gigaseal patch clamp experiments, making direct measurements in ion channel drug discovery and safety testing feasible. Released to the market in the Autumn of 2004 by Sophion Bioscience, the QPatch originated from work done at NeuroSearch (Denmark) in the early days of automated patch clamp. Today, the QPatch provides many unique features. For example, only the QPatch includes an automated cell preparation station making several hours of unattended operation possible. The 16-channel electrode array, called the QPlate, includes glass-coated microfluidic channels for less compound absorption and, hence, more accurate IC50 values. The microfluidic pathways also allow for very small amounts of compound used for each experiment (∼ 5 µl per addition). Only the QPatch has four independent pipetting heads for more efficient liquid handling (especially for ligand-gated ion channel experiments). Patch clamp recordings with the QPatch match the high quality of conventional patch clamp and in some cases the results are even better. For example, only the QPatch includes 100% series resistance compensation for the elimination of false positives due to voltage errors. Finally, the modular QPatch 16 was designed with more channels in mind. The upgrade pathway to 48-channels (the QPatch HT) will be discussed.