Paul Andrews, National Phenotypic Screening Centre, University of Dundee, UK
The National Phenotypic Screening Centre (NPSC) was created with ~€11M of Scottish government investment and launched in 2015 with labs in three top-tier UK Universities: Dundee, Edinburgh and Oxford. A key aim of the centre is to redress the balance in drug discovery away from target-based approaches by focusing efforts towards advanced phenotypic screening, developing the most physiologically-relevant assays possible, leveraging the latest developments in biology, whether that is human, animal or plant systems.
In the human disease space we have formed a consortium open to all Pharma/Biotech called the Phenomics Discovery Initiative (PDi) that has Janssen as its founding partner. This precompetitive de-risking partnership is developing and validating a range of disease-relevant assays across a spectrum of therapeutic areas. Projects are developed in-house with our existing expertise-base and also sourced from academics, clinicians and SMEs through open calls to our extensive worldwide networks. Emphasis is on using 3D models, patient material, multicellular tissues, organoids, iPSC-derived models and CRISPR/Cas9, using multi-parametric phenotypic readouts where appropriate. We are also building a similar consortium in crop protection and have buy-in from all the major agrichem companies. NPSC aims to advance the science of phenotypic screening by creating a truly multi-disciplinary environment.