Project Image:
Title of the project:
new cell lines for drug tests on ion channels
Project funding:
  • Die Arbeitsgemeinschaft industrieller Forschungsvereinigungen (AIF)
Project management:
  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft industrieller Forschungsvereinigungen
Funding reference number:

Based on ovarian cells of the Chinese hamster, new cell lines will be developed and characterized for use in pharmaceutical drug development. Since the function of the ion channels in the cell membranes is disturbed in many diseases, drug candidates are tested for their effect on the electrical activity of ion channels. The cell lines will be optimized for this purpose and for use in automated test procedures (patch-clamp machines) that operate at high throughput rates.


The term "ion channel diseases" refers to widespread diseases such as cardiac arrhythmia, diabetes, high blood pressure and, as the population ages, neurodegenerative diseases. As a consequence, ion channels have become one of the most important target classes for drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry. This development will continue in the future, as more than 300 ion channel genes have been identified in the Human Genome Project, but so far only about 100 ion channels have been cloned and functionally tested. The identification of new ion channels, their functional testing and validation as target sites for novel selective drugs as well as ion channel safety pharmacology are therefore the focus of interest of biotech companies and the pharmaceutical industry.
The investigation of active substances for their selective effect on ion channels or possible side effects on ion channel function requires suitable cellular systems that can be used in higher throughput test procedures.
In this project, cell lines are produced that express disease-relevant ion channels stably, in sufficient quantities and while retaining their functional characteristics. The focus is on the production of cell lines that are not yet commercially available or do not express the ion channel qualitatively well. The development of cell lines is carried out in the cell culture technology group of the Steinbeis Innovation Centre of the Steinbeis Foundation at the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences. We characterise the cell lines electrophysiologically and pharmacologically and adapt them to high-throughput applications in patch-clamp machines. The cell lines validated in this way can then be offered for sale to customers from the pharmaceutical industry or used by the NMI TT GmbH for services in the field of drug discovery and substance profiling. In the longer term, the establishment of a comprehensive screening service is planned, for which a cell line library will be established using the company's own proprietary technology.

The following four ion channel cell lines, based on "chinese hamster ovary" (CHO) cells, will be produced and validated and optimized for their suitability for substance screening by automated electrophysiology:

CHO Kv1.3
CHO Kv1.4
CHO Task-1
CHO Kir6.2/SUR1

Project partners:
  • Arbeitsgruppe Zellkulturtechnik, Steinbeis-Innovationszentrums (SIZ) an der Hochschule Mannheim