Cell detection system could speed up drug development

MelTec GmbH has published a study describing its Neuronal Cell Detection System (NCDS) for the monitoring of fluorescent lymphocytes in human tissue using robotic imaging technology.

MelTec GmbH, a topological and functional proteomics company, has published a study describing its Neuronal Cell Detection System (NCDS) for the monitoring of fluorescent lymphocytes in human tissue using robotic imaging technology.

MelTec’s robotic imaging technology is said to read protein networks in the context of whole cells, thereby analysing how protein networks encode cellular functions and the identification of cellular subtypes, while providing an image of protein locations in the cell, or the cell’s protein topology.

Using MelTec’s NCDS algorithm, the biomathematical basis of its proprietary technology MELK (Multi-Epitope-Ligand-Kartographie), the researchers were able to automatically monitor in tissue sections the number of fluorescent marked migratory cells, the positions of these cells and the phenotype of these cells, thus identifying and localising particular subsets of cells.

The NCDS system enabled researchers to conduct high-throughput, reproducible and valid statistical analysis of protein networks involved in disease pathways.

To learn about cellular function and mechanisms, the groups of proteins that define a particular cellular fingerprint reflecting topological information were considered, rather than just looking at individual proteins and their molecular information.

‘The NCDS provides a unique tool for analysing proteomic information that was not available before, linking cellular structure, protein expression and function,’ said Walter Schubert, M.D., Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MelTec. ‘We believe that the NCDS can enable researchers to simultaneously identify and prioritise drug targets and lead compounds directly from tissue samples of patients, and may help with diagnosis as well.’

It is known that lymphocytes, because of their innate ability to invade and progressively destroy cells, play an essential role in cellular immune response, autoimmune diseases and transplant rejection. They work by either migrating as single cells, or acting in unison forming dense lymphoid tissue.

According to the study, the NCDS is capable of detecting and monitoring at least 85% of the cells involved in tissue migration and the protein networks that participate in the involved mechanisms. This newly available data is considered crucial for a better understanding of diseases linked with cellular migration, such as arteriosclerosis and cancer.

According to MelTec, the key to understanding the mechanisms underlying disease processes lies in deciphering the variations and interactions in the protein networks involved in specific disease pathways.

Currently, most of the relationships between the cellular environment and intracellular distribution of proteins are not well understood.

With the NCDS technology a researcher can simultaneously discover the molecular phenotype of cells and the precise position of protein networks and enable closer investigation of the hidden relationships between the structure, molecular expression and function of proteins.

Using its technology, MelTec believes that it can greatly accelerate pre-clinical research in the drug development process, and has already identified new targets and lead compounds in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and cancer.

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