Label-Free Analysis

cell analysis systemCellKey 384 Label-Free Cellular Analysis System

High throughput label-free analysis of endogenous cell-surface receptor activity, in a single comprehensive assay methodology, independent of the signaling pathway.

The CellKey® 384 System is a universal, high throughput label-free platform for real-time cell-based functional analysis of endogenous and recombinant receptors.  The system enables the measurement of a wide range of targets in a single-assay, including all families of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), as well as tyrosine kinase receptors (TKRs), adhesion molecules, and indirect measurement of ion channel activation. In particular, the system is a major breakthrough for accurate monitoring of Gαi- and Gαs-coupled GPCR receptors, as it overcomes many of the challenges and limitations found with the traditionally available assay formats.

The underlying technology of the system is cellular dielectric spectroscopy (CDS), an impedance based measurement that eliminates the need for labels, such as tags, dyes, or specialized reagents. By eliminating the requirement for labels, the CellKey System streamlines assay development by reducing the number of steps to be optimized, and allows users to develop one standard assay solution for multiple target classes, regardless of pathway.

The 384-well format increases throughput and enables up to 25,000 samples to be acquired per 8 hour day.  The higher density microplate format reduces the per well assay costs by reducing the cells/well and reagents requirements. Additionally, the CellKey 384 System includes a tip wash system, which extends unattended operation.

The system was designed to meet the needs of drug discovery scientists-- from target identification and validation through lead optimization. It is sensitive enough to monitor ligand-mediated activation of endogenous receptors expressed in adherent or non-adherent cell lines, including primary cells. The benefit of this is the ability to generate more physiologically relevant data than obtained when using genetically and chemically manipulated cells.

While traditional technologies measure only discrete intracellular events, such as Ca2+ flux or cAMP fluctuation, the CellKey System measures the integrated response of the whole cell to receptor activation. By presenting a more complete picture of the complex pathways activated, scientists gain a better understanding of the cellular response. For example, upon detecting GPCR activation, the CellKey System generates robust and reproducible response profiles that are characteristic of Gαs-, Gαi- or Gαq- GPCRs. This qualitative data can be used to identify and deconvolute the pathway(s) through which receptors transduce their signals, and enables detailed interpretation of the mechanism of action (MOA) of lead compounds.

The CellKey 384 System is a fully integrated solution consisting of the instrument with on-board temperature control and internally integrated fluidics, a custom microplate for detection, and an extensive software suite. The integrated pipettor head allows the system to add ligand while simultaneously capturing the immediate cellular response. This feature contributes to the robustness and reproducibility of the CellKey System response profiles.  The system software manages both data acquisition and the information-rich, real-time kinetic data analysis. Additionally, the system has been designed to integrate with most available automation options.



Sensitive to endogenous receptors

Enables reliable and robust measurements of endogenous cellular receptor activity, even low density receptors which may be undetectable with other functional assays.

Label free detection

Expensive tags, dyes, or specialized reagents are not required. This reduces the resources required for assay development and eliminates the incidence of undesirable interactions with labels.

Universal platform for functional cell surface target assays

Single platform and assay methodology measures GPCRs, TKRs, adhesion molecules, and indirectly measures ligand-gated ion channels, among other targets.

Measures all cell types

System measures disease and biologically relevant cell lines and primary cells, including adherent and non-adherent cell types.

Measures all classes of compound efficacy

Comprehensive detection of agonists, antagonists, partial and inverse agonists, and allosteric modulators in a native setting in a single assay.

Information-rich kinetic response data

Reproducible and robust qualitative pathway-specific cell response profiles.

Probe complex receptor signaling, pathway diversity, and identify the underlying mechanism of action (MOA) of lead compounds.

Streamlined assay development

Single-assay format for multiple receptor types regardless of signal coupling mechanism. 

Reduces the resources spent on assay development, such as time consuming and costly biological manipulation of cell lines and the optimization of labeling reagents.

384-well format

384-well measurement and fluidics accelerates throughput for label-free cell-based kinetic screening, up to 25000 wells in an 8 hour period.  Reduces per well cost, due to high density format and decreases cells/well and reagent needs.

Integrated, internal pipettor head

Simultaneous addition of ligand and/or compound while measuring the fast kinetic cellular responses, delivers reproducible and robust response profiles, with no loss of information.

On-board tip wash system

Online tip washing extends unattended operation during extended runs, increases throughput capability, and reduces running costs.


Designed for easy robotic integration with small and large scale automation platforms.

Ease of use

The CellKey 384 System is a fully integrated, flexible, and intuitive platform.