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Ion channels are the third largest pharmaceutical target class. The discovery and development of ion channel drugs has been hampered by a lack of cost-effective, physiologically relevant, high-throughput assays. Using light to both control membrane potential and readout ion channel activity enables an entirely new ion-channel assay paradigm with dramatically highter throughput and lower cost than existing technologies. Photoswitch Biosciences is developing a complete assay system consisting of cell lines, photoswitches, voltage-sensitive dyes and a reader.