3D cell culture is an area of great interest in the drug development industry, as 3D models give a more accurate representation of how cells act in response to compounds in vivo. Merck’s Cellular Pharmacology Department specializes in the use of spheroid cell cultures to test various conditions and compounds of interest, and identify candidate drugs. Automation plays a vital role in this process, enabling high throughput screening of cell-based assays.
Recent viral outbreaks have alerted the world to the serious consequences of viral disease, yet the development of new antiviral drugs is challenging because of problems such as resistance or lack of molecular targets. Researchers at Zhejiang University’s College of Pharmaceutical Sciences are seeking to identify new antiviral drugs by combining insights from traditional Chinese medicine with modern high throughput technologies to discover novel lead compounds.
Damage to the brain or spinal cord can be life changing for affected individuals, and it was historically thought that these injuries would not heal and could not be repaired. However, since the discovery of neurite growth inhibitors by Professor Martin E. Schwab at the University of Zurich, clinical researchers have been exploring new therapeutic approaches to treat cerebral stroke and spinal cord injury. The Wyss Zurich/University of Zurich CeNeReg project and NovaGo Therapeutics Inc. – co-founded by Professor Schwab – are at the forefront of this exciting field, and are dedicated to the development of human antibody therapeutics to stimulate nerve repair and regeneration.
Drug discovery is a lengthy and expensive process, particularly in the early candidate identification stages, where screening of large numbers of compounds is required. Researchers at the University of Central Florida are using artificial intelligence (AI) to aid candidate selection for antimalarial drugs, making this selection process more efficient and cost effective, as well as increasing the likelihood of success.
The VirPath laboratory is focused on the study of influenza and other respiratory viruses to identify new antiviral molecules and develop innovative vaccines. Digital dispensing and luminescence-based assays play an important role in the evaluation of viral growth in different experimental models.
Detecting adverse off-target effects is crucial to ensure the safety of potential therapeutics, but limited throughput and ethical considerations have traditionally forced pharmaceutical companies to perform safety pharmacology studies at a late stage of the drug development process. Human stem cell-based cellular models and automated screening processes are revolutionizing drug safety studies, enabling much earlier testing, with companies such as Ncardia at the forefront of this workflow transformation.
Small molecule drug discovery involves a range of functional assays that have traditionally relied on manual cell counting techniques to monitor proliferation, migration and invasion. Automated cell counting is enabling the EB House Austria to save time and free up personnel, as well as designing time-course experiments that were previously unachievable.
The successful treatment of inflammatory diseases may lie with controlling the production of particular proteins, driving efforts to identify translational repressors for drug targeting. Scientists at the Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research have developed luminescencebased biosensors for protein detection, supporting multiplex studies and timecourse assays for identifying and characterizing novel compounds.
Developing therapies to treat rare diseases is often hindered by the limited availability of primary patient samples. Without these precious samples, it is difficult to understand the fundamental biology of these conditions or screen compound libraries for drug candidates. A group at the University of Parma is using a ‘chemogenomics’ approach to overcome this challenge, working on a nanoliter scale to identify new treatments for aggressive pediatric leukemias.
The HP D300 Digital Dispenser is enabling researchers at the Columbia Genome Center’s High-Throughput Screening Facility to quickly and simply create dose-response curves for combinations of up to nine compounds, allowing rapid generation of EC 50 data for faster experimental progress.
Automation brings more than simply speed to the laboratory. Modern software is taking the headache out of serial dilution and normalization calculations, supporting assay development and delivering reliable results for international healthcare company Merck.
Chinese medicine combines herbal remedies with acupuncture, massage, exercise and diet to provide alternative therapies for a wide range of conditions. Despite drawing on over 2,500 years of traditional knowledge, little is known about the mode of action of these herbal medicines. Researchers at Zhejiang University’s College of Pharmaceutical Sciences are looking to address this, using modern laboratory techniques to identify the numerous active pharmaceutical ingredients and synergistic effects that contribute to their efficacy.
Biomolecular interaction analysis plays an important role in the pharmaceutical industry. SensiQ Technologies has optimized surface plasmon resonance technology for drug discovery applications, developing an automated system that can provide rapid affinity data for prompt identification of candidate fragment activities.