The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

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The Florey Ion Channel Analysis Facility (FICF) provides contract services and collaboration opportunities in ion channel analysis and neurophysiology.

Since its inception, the FICF has deployed three core technologies: automated medium and high throughput planar patch clamp recording; automated two-electrode voltage clamp recording; and multi-electrode array recording for neuronal networks and cardiomyocytes. In addition to the deployment of these key technologies, the FICF has developed and accumulated a range of ion channel stable cell lines and expression vectors in various ion channel classes: NaVs, KVs, GluRs, Purinerigic, GABA receptors, Kirs, as well as cardiac safety panels and others to enable assay development and safety testing for a range of therapeutic interactions.

The facility is led by Florey Deputy Director, Associate Professor Steven Petrou, and managed by Dr Carol Milligan. The group’s research focus is in understanding the CNS pathology of ion channel disorders with a specialised interest in genetic epilepsy. They are keen to hear from anyone seeking ion channel analysis services or related collaborative opportunities.

Year of establishment

2011

Access and pricing

Access is open to non-commercial and commercial users, as fee for service or via a collaboration arrangement. There are three pricing tiers; the first tier is for University-based academic users, the second tier is for other academic users and the third tier is for commercial users.
 

Contact details

Main contact: associate Professor Steven Petrou
Email: steven.petrou@florey.edu.au
Phone: +61 (0)3 9035 3628
 

Clients/studies


FICF has both academic and commercial collaborators. Some examples of current collaborators follow:
  • Epi4K Consortium and Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project. The Epi4K project began in 2011 as an international, multi-centre study that seeks to identify and characterise the genetic bases of complex epilepsies. The ‘Centre without Walls’ Epi4K project is the world’s biggest neurological gene discovery project.
  • Monash Antibodies Technology Facility. As a world leading facility for the production of custom antibodies for basic research, diagnosis and therapy the MATF is a natural partner for the FICF. This collaboration explores the use of the potassium inward rectifier (Kir) channel family as drug targets for disorders such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation, pain and diabetes.
  • Associate Professor Spencer Williams (Bio21 Institute, The University of Melbourne). Prof Williams is an experienced synthetic organic chemist and recipient of the Biota Award for medicinal chemistry. His work has led to the establishment of two Melbourne-based biotechnology companies (NeuProtect and Fibrotech) developing drugs for the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. His clinical candidate with Fibrotech Therapeutics (FT011) is currently undergoing Phase 1b trials. This collaboration explores the role of NaV1.1 sodium channel specific openers in Dravet Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy, and the potential for NaV1.1 as a therapeutic target.
  • Neurolixis Inc. is an early-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialisation of novel drugs for the treatment of human central nervous system diseases including Parkinson's disease, Rett syndrome, depression and schizophrenia. This collaboration involves the development of -Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor positive allosteric modulators as rapid-acting antidepressants.
  • Professor Glenn King (Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland) is an expert in isolation and characterisation of venom peptides and their application as ion channel modulators. In this collaborative program the FICF is assessing selected venom peptides against ion channel targets to determine selectivity, potency, mechanism of action, therapeutic index and higher order neuronal network function to identify therapeutic indications.

Equipment/assets

  • Three Patchliner workstations (Nanion Technologies)
  • IonFlux high-throughput patch-clamp workstation (Fluxion Bioscience)
  • Robocyte 1, Robocyte 2, Roboinject and HiClamp (Multi Channel Systems)
  • Eight Multi-electrode Arrays (Multi Channel Systems)
  • Standard whole cell patch clamp

Services

  • Secondary Drug screening – Electrophysiological cell-based assays.
  • Our ion channel services include a range of automated and manual capabilities.  In automated planar patch clamping we have deployed three Nanion Patchliners with temperature control and fluidics for “manual patch” clamp quality.  For higher throughput work we offer Fluxion’s IonFlux HT.  And for transient expression of ion channels Roboocyte 1 and 2 as well as Hi Clamp two electrode voltage clamp systems are available.
  • Analysis of drug action on in situ neuronal properties is undertaken using standard whole-cell patch-clamp in brain slices from mouse or rat brains with 1-6 electrode recording configurations available for analysis of electrically (gap junction) or synaptically coupled networks of excitatory and inhibitory neurons.  Multi-electrode array fingerprinting of drug action using cultured network unit recording is a powerful new approach for pharmacodynamics profiling of existing and novel therapeutics and for predicting future clinical efficacy.
  • LTP and LTD and other extracellular field potential configurations round out our suite of MEA service offerings.  For specialized services such as dynamic action potential clamp analysis using realistic neuronal conductance environments can provide phenotypic level assays using targets expressed in existing cell lines.  Furthermore, we can offer genome edited human stem cell derived neurons for MEA and patch clamp analysis to model human genetic disorder based disease states in isogenic stem cell lines.
  • A range of epilepsy specific models and services are available including Video-EEG analysis, chemical convulsant and thermogenic seizure models. 
  • Finally, we provide state of the art structural imaging in 2D and 3D using advanced confocal, two-photon and high field magnetic resonance imaging approaches.