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Phenotypic screening was once the mainstay of drug development and could potentially lead to the identification of molecules that modify the phenotype of a disease by acting on a previously undescribed target or by acting on multiple targets simultaneously.

Phenotypic screening is different from a more modern concept, namely target-based screening, which refers to screening substances that interact with specific protein targets. In phenotypic screening, researchers test compounds in model systems and look for specific effects, even though the drug's mechanism of action may be unknown. Phenotypic screening is an attractive method to identify novel chemical substances for therapeutic areas with complex disease mechanisms or where the disease targets are unknown.

One of the greatest benefits of phenotypic screening is that it inherently eliminates bias for specific targets. While the target-based approach assumes that you understand a biological system well enough to attribute disease to a specific gene, phenotypic assays may better capture the uncertainty and complexity of biological systems, allowing for a broader search and identification of new targets and mechanisms.

There are two types of phenotypic screening strategies:

  • In vitro screening

This screening employs cell lines and monitors a single parameter. The biggest advantage of this method is that it can be easily adapted to high-throughput formats. In the case of limited knowledge of disease pathology, in vitro phenotypic assays may provide more insights than target-based screening alone.

  • In vivo screening

The strategy involves testing substances in many different types of animal models representing different disease states, such as fruit fly, zebrafish, and mice. This method offers the advantage of context, namely interrogation of test agents in a fully integrated, assembled biological system or an organism.

Our scientists can add significant value to your phenotypic discovery programs using their breadth and depth of knowledge in multiple therapeutic areas to design appropriate phenotypic assays and quickly deconvolute phenotypic screening when needed. We have experience in establishing phenotypic screening using a series of assay platforms, such as live cell imaging and high-content imaging.

phenotypic screening

Benefits of using our powerful phenotypic screening platform:

  • Enables researchers to see the effects on disease phenotypes in a complex biological environment involving multiple pathways.
  • Obtains predictive toxicology data at the same time.
  • Identifies hits relatively quickly through further target validation or efficacy studies.

From image acquisition to hit selection, Creative Bioarray offers integrated solutions for every step of your phenotypic screening workflow. From the beginning, we provide the in-depth knowledge and robust, high-quality data you need to make informed decisions about which compounds to take forward during the drug discovery process.


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