Assay development

assay development – develop complex assays, faster!

A plethora of methods are explored in assay development for drug discovery. The final choice of assay format is dependent upon the biology of the drug target, the equipment infrastructure in the laboratory, the experience of the scientists working on the project, and the scale of the compound screen to be performed.

find out how we can help you optimise your:




liquid handling

The complexities of assay development, and challenges associated with validating and transferring assays into HTS are well known bottle necks in the drug discovery process.  TTP Labtech have sought to address this with the application of a novel liquid handling technology within a range of user friendly, low volume liquid handling instruments that significantly reduce assay development time and greatly improve assay robustness in screening. Our liquid handlers provide you with precise and repeatable nanolitre pipetting, every time, irrespective of liquid viscosity or environmental conditions.

  • guaranteed zero cross-contamination
  • accurate sample placement for perfect drop dispensing every time
  • cost-savings from optimised sample use and reduced waste
  • proven suitability for multiple-user environments – just walk up and use it


dragonfly discovery – automated multi-channel assay development and validation for HTS.

dragonfly discovery is a very innovative liquid handling instrument, which uses a unique combination of positive displacement and non-contact pipetting to provide reliable, fast, broad dynamic range dispensing, which is agnostic of liquid class.

dragonfly discovery enables:

  • design and development of complex assays directly in 384 or 1,536 well plate format
  • simultaneous dispensing from up to 10 independently controlled channels
  • DoE with intuitive user interface

>> Register your interest in the dragonfly discovery road show


mosquito offers an accurate and easy-to-use-solution to miniaturising any assay; offering amazing performance across the range, from nanolitres to microlitres

Application areas include:

  • serial dilutions
  • plate reformatting and replication
  • acoustic plate source creation
  • next generation sequencing
  • genotyping
  • high throughput MALDI-TOF MS

multiplex immune & cell health assays

Assay quality is typically determined according to the Z’ factor (Zhang et al., 1999). This is a statistical parameter that in addition to considering the signal window in the assay also considers the variance around both the high and low signals in the assay. The Z factor has become the industry standard means of measuring assay quality on a plate bases. TTP Labtech have developed high sensitivity fluorescence cytometers, which are  highly versatile instruments that bring process efficiencies to multiple stages in the drug disovery pipeline – from early screening and hit identification, through to characterisation and phenotypic cellular responses.

  • multiplex hit identification and counter-screens into one assay
  • use adherent cells, suspension cells, or sol-R beads
  • gain throughput advantages with automation


Efficacy studies are needed in order to determine if the assay pharmacology is predictive of the disease state and to show that the assay is capable of identifying compounds with the desired potency and mechanism of action. In recent years, establishing safety toxicity studies earlier on in drug development has become more common.

acumen Cellista offers the data quality of a phenotypic assays with the speed and simplicity of a plate reader. With plate read and analysis times as low as 2 ½  minutes, regardless of plate format, acumen Cellista can be used for primary screening in the determination of off-target drug effects in the earliest phases of drug discovery.

Application areas include:

  • live/dead – using standard dyes such as calcein-AM/PI or TOTO-3/TMRM
    These combinations provide a more cost-effective approach to bulk read assays, such as CellTitre–Glo®, and offer the benefit of multiplexing with additional phenotypic assays to gain more high content data
  • apoptosis – annexin V, Caspase-3, nuclear condensation
  • genotox – phophohistone H3


Generally, high-quality assays are created through implementing simple assay protocols with fewer steps, minimising wash steps or plate to plate reagent transfers within the assay. Additionally, through the use of stable reagents and biological components and by ensuring that all the instrumentation used to perform the assay is performing optimally. This is typically achieved through developing quality control practices for all items of laboratory automation

With mirrorball it is simple to:

  • convert time wasteful ELISA protocols into a no-wash format
  • walk away with confidence, no potential for system clogging!
  • eliminate daily maintenance overheads

sample and compound management

Sample and compound storage and delivery are critical to assay development and reproducibility.

Our instrumentation is ideally suited to the storage and processing of biological and chemical reagents, including solubilised chemical compounds in DMSO and water, purified DNA, RT-PCR primers, proteins and antibodies.

  • reduce potential damage to stocks by only cherry-picking the samples you need
  • ensure sample integrity with temperature controlled, dry, inert, hermetically sealed environment
  • ensure throughput grows with your library by processing samples in parallel
  • never lose a sample


Secure, random access storage of compounds, antibodies, recombinant proteins (-20°C).

comPOUND sample storage system gives you the ability to:

  • match storage capacity to current needs. Additional modules can be integrated in response to growing library size
  • easily integrate with LIMS for robust sample tracking
  • maximise efficiency of downstream automation with custom arraying of selected libraries


arktic is a compact, high density -80°C storage system with rapid random access of stored samples.

Unique pneumatic transport eliminates the need for robotics in the cold zone, combined with extensive monitoring and fail-safe back-up systems resulting in unrivalled reliability. Rackless storage increases density and removes rack edge effects ensuring all samples are treated equally. Tube only cherry picking ensures the integrity of innocent samples.

arktic provides:

  • easy and rapid sample access
  • stable and reliable -80°C storage
  • simple user interface
  • full LIMS compatibility
  • custom sample arraying for more efficient workflows
  • sophisticated monitoring and back-up systems for fail-safe operation