Qube Stacker

Make your drug discovery more efficient from the early face with high fidelity electrophysiology with very low labor efforts. Qube runs unattended with its stacker feeding compounds and consumables and the onboard cell hotel supplying the cells for up to 8 hours of screening. Free up your time to prepare other interesting things or digest results as they are analyzed automatically.

Qube with stacker – 6,000 wells with a click on a button

Make your drug discovery more efficient from the early face with high fidelity electrophysiology with very low labor efforts. The Qube stacker together with the integrated cell preparation unit (QFuge) enables fully unattended operation for 16 QChips or more than 6000 wells before any user intervention is needed.

  • 6000 wells with a click of a button
  • 6-10 hours of true walkaway operation increase laboratory efficiency
  • Overnight runs increase laboratory throughput
  • Automatic data analysis for online data monitoring
  • Automated dilution of DMSO stock to avoid compound adherence

See video below:


Depending on the assay length and cell viability one click on “run” enables unattended operation for 6-10 hours creating results from more than 6,000 compound wells with single addition per QChip or up to over 30,000 compound wells with cumulative dose response assays with 5 doses per site.

Using Sophion Qube with the integrated stacker frees up labor to do more important tasks like preparing next experiments, interpretation data etc. The data generated on Qube are analyzed continuously and automatically in Sophion Analyzer project analysis so every time a QChip has been assayed fresh data can be enjoyed from anywhere with a connection to the company network.

Also, the robustness of Qube operation is so high that Qube can be re-loaded and started at the end of the day to conduct overnight runs. Unattended use generates data at a high and cost efficient pace:

“Further overall savings could be gained from shorter screening campaigns; if a compound discovered in the initial HTS, or developed in the follow-up on the same APC platform is successful and reaches the market, an extension of 3-6 months to the patent life of a compound at the end of its period of exclusivity could be worth a significant amount of money, certainly enough to cover the difference in cost between HTS campaigns utilizing APC or traditional HTS technologies”

Please see the paper here: Chambers et al. 2016 

Qube does indeed give the potential to shorten campaign time since it runs with stacker and no user intervention long beyond normal office hours (Fig. 2).

Stacker data

Figure 2. Qube assay with stacker. Nav1.4 current was elicited with a two-pulse protocol and the effect of 30 µM tetracaine was evaluated. The stacker was loaded with 16 QChips and 16 compound plates “run” was pressed at 4:24 pm when the user went home. The relative current in the presence of tetracaine (blue) respectively saline (red) is plotted for each plate throughout the run versus the time stamps for each the start of each QChip.

stacker data2

Figure 3. 16 compounds plates were assayed with alternating rows of tetracaine and saline control. The analysis is performed to detect block and the amount of block is color coded with blue meaning more than 50% block and red is effectively no block. The white wells are those that are failed due to quality filters. Notably it can be seen that there are no false negative nor false positives as can be appreciated by the absence of blue wells in the red rows and vice versa.




DMSO stock dilution

In HTS it is well known that compounds are exposed to plastic surfaces with the risk of compound adhering to these surfaces and hence not be accurately monitored when added to the ion channel in question. To mitigate this risk, Qube is capable of diluting DMSO stock solution 1,000-fold directly in the compound plate and shortly before the actual assay. Naturally it is up the user to decide to use this feature or not and a combination of dilution and no dilution is also possible.

Easy and flexible analysis

Whether to benefit from this high throughput to do primary screening or for compound characterization in many replicates is entirely up to the user since the handling of Qube is the same. The workload to do the analysis is equally low in both setups. In other words, this confers both HTS and non-HTS flexibility in one and the same instrument.

Automated tip exchange

The tips used by Qube 384-liquid handler are being thoroughly washed in water and additional solvents of any choice after each liquid addition, but if needed, Qube can also be asked to exchange the tips automatically during the run at any desired frequency. In the run depicted in Fig. 2 tips were exchanged for every third QChip.

To see a video of stacker operation please click here.

Short time needed between runs

When 16 QChips have been assayed and more cells are needed in the cell hotel, it is a matter of only 5 minutes operator time to supply news cells and exchange cell waste container and press “run” again before another 16 QChips can be assayed – they could even have been placed in the stacker tower already since that harbors up to 40 QChips. The same goes for the tower for compound plates. These towers can detached from the stacker body to load a stack of plates in one movement or QChips and compound plates can be added from the top while Qube is running – the barcode reader in Qube will of course keep track of everything.

Modular approach

Qube also comes without stacker and if the need then arises the stacker can be mounted and the user trained within less than a day. All connections and supplies to the stacker come directly from the Qube instrument and all communication is done via Sophion ViewPoint software. The stacker unit is manufactured by Hudson robotics, but other brands can be also be used after some customization. At Sophion we chose to integrate with Hudson as first choice because their stacker provides the best software interface and sensor output. These are features that fit our philosophy of making Qube as easy to use as possible.