NJIT Physics Department Seminar


November 19th, 2007, Monday


Electrophysiology in Drug Discovery


Dr. Kevin Carlin, Purdue Pharma

(Biophysics, Host: Prodan)


Room: 373 Tiernan

Time: Noon-1 pm with 11:30 am tea time



Over the past number of years the role that ion channels play in both normal physiology and in pathological conditions has been increasingly recognized. In fact, the malfunctioning of ion channels has been demonstrated to lie at the core of such diverse conditions as epilepsy, schizophrenia, and pain for example. As such, these ion-conducting transmembrane proteins have become primary targets for many pharmacological agents designed to ameliorate disease symptoms. Moreover, the pharmaceutical industry has long recognized the importance of ion channels in generating the cardiac rhythm and therefore potential new drugs are routinely assayed against cardiac ion channels to reduce the possibility of a drug disturbing the normal cardiac rhythm which could lead to life threatening events.

The “patch clamp” electrophysiological technique allows scientists to monitor the activity of ion channels in single cells and to assess the effectiveness of pharmacological agents. This technique involves gaining electrical access to the interior of a cell and controlling the transmembrane voltage so that once the ion channels are activated, the resultant current flow is proportional to the channel activity. Although this single-cell technique still remains the “gold standard” to assess ion channels, more recently automated patch clamp systems have been developed that allow many cells to be recorded from at once. Despite some limitations, this automation has increased the throughput of this valuable technique and has allowed pharmaceutical companies to assay far greater numbers of compounds in an effort to find new drugs.