Calorimetry a new paradigm in cell-based assays

Measuring the metabolic activities in living organisms is a well established science. In 1784, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier and Pierre Simon de Laplace cleverly devised the first calorimetric device, using heat to measure chemical and physical changes. Calorimeters have evolved to become a modern tool for the advancement of science. SymCel is introducing the first calorimeter developed specifically for cell-based assays suitable for both advanced metabolic research as well as drug discovery and development applications.

Creating solutions for you

calScreener™ technology is valid for monitoring changes in biological processes caused by physical, chemical or biological stimuli. Changes in metabolic activity will cause changes in heat dissipated from the cell, tissue or organism. Depending on the biological process involved different kinetic behaviors are anticipated. The graphs are idealized examples of the different heat output over time from different cellular processes.


The CalScreener™ principle

Biological processes caused by physical, chemical or biological stimuli in which metabolic changes are anticipated are all valid for the analysis.

The calPlate™ containing the individual sealed cups holding the cell culture are placed in a thermostatic chamber set at the target temperature with a precision within thousands of a Kelvin.

The cups rest upon a heat-flux detecting sensor, the thermopile. The sensor is attached to a heat-sink with a large mass compared to the cell-culture cups. All heat produced is transferred to the heat-sink giving rise to a signal in the thermopile sensor proportional to the heat-flow.

The measured heat is thus independent of the model system or the process involved. We have a label free, real-time, detection system applicable to a wide range of biological applications

Calorimetry technology can be applied to

Drug development
Bioavailability – Are your compounds able to affect living cells?, Target validation, Hit validation; rapid assessment of effect on cells, Rapid filtering of hit compounds with in-built toxicity testing & Lead selection.

Protein Production
Identification of High-producing Clones & Optimization of Culture Conditions.

Identify toxicological events at early stage in the discovery process.

Basic Research
Metabolic monitoring & Proliferation assays.

calScreener™ is not limited to these few applications. The application areas are limited only by the imagination of the scientist. We strongly encourage you to discuss with us your label-free cell-assay ideas and requirements.



The instrument was initially developed to analyze adherent eukaryotic cells but may be used for any cell type suspended or adherent, including bacterial cells and yeast.
All types of changes in the cellular metabolism can be monitored since calScreener™ gives a measurement of the combined changes in metabolic rate. A majority of cellular processes such as cell death and cell proliferation affects the cellular metabolism to a large degree. More subtle processes such as cell signaling also give rise to changes in metabolic turnover. The use of a calorimetric methodology to detect major, as well as, subtle cellular events is a well established methodology. The SymCel calScreener™ is a high sensitivity, easy to use calorimeter designed for cell biological work, opening up a new set of opportunities for research scientists and drug development.
SymCel calScreener™ uses no label –no additives. This results in faster assay development and cost savings since there are no reagents involved. The assay maintains the native environment of the cell and errors introduced by additions of antibodies or other reagents are avoided. The use of heat production measurement to monitor cell metabolism is also a non-destructive method facilitating further downstream analysis of cells for e.g. RNA expression levels. There is no need to have prior knowledge of a specific drug-target or the involved pathways or reaction mechanism.
Many of the current available cell-biological analysis technologies depend on ‘end-point’ measurements where data is derived from a specific time point (e.g. reporter gene assays). calScreener™ collects a continuous data-stream facilitating research of kinetic behavior such as cell growth or apoptosis. The continuous read-out makes it easier to find the interesting time-points for measuring cellular events.
calScreener™ is currently being tested by a select number of labs to obtain user feedback and peer-reviewed scientific publications. calScreener is now available to the market, Q1 2014.
Using a suitable cell-model calScreener™ is suitable for toxicology applications. The most common experiment would involve the comparison of the metabolic response of a novel compound with different know toxicological standards.
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Below are some publication examples of biological processes and applications where heat measurements
have been conducted using calorimetric equipment, including measurement of basic
cellular responses such as cell proliferation, cell death (apoptosis) and cell signaling.