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Pharma Newsletters >> Eurofins BioPharma Services Newsletter 23 - June 2019 >> Phenotypic Drug Discovery

Shedding light on phenotypic drug discovery to advance oncology efforts

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by Sheryl P. Denker, PhD, Scientific Writer & Strategic Content Manager; Alastair J. King, PhD, Scientific Director; and Alison O’Mahony, VP Translational
Biology; Eurofins Discovery

Tumour cells are extremely effective at exploiting and evading human biology for the unfortunate benefit of disease progression. Consequently, developing therapeutics for oncology requires a similar approach to fighting cancer itself—investigators must use multifaceted, creative, and comprehensive strategies. Use of target-based and broader – or phenotypic – approaches are not mutually exclusive. Both can, and should, be incorporated at all stages of the drug discovery continuum to best meet the challenges inherent in this therapeutic space.

One key challenge in oncology is the complexity of the host tumour microenvironment (TME). Cancerous cells of all types do not propagate in isolation, but as part of an intricate, hierarchical interaction of support tissue, vasculature, and immune cells that together form the TME. Tumour shape is also diverse; tumours are not flat, but three-dimensional, with gradients of oxygenation, nutrition, and pH. Complex human biology thus contributes to the difficulty in broadly predicting drug candidate behaviour based on single analyte data. This is where phenotypic drug discovery shines. With a comprehensive, human disease model and cell-based strategy, one can gain actionable insights for candidate efficacy, toxicity, mechanism of action and more, on multiple pathways simultaneously.

Eurofins Discovery’s OncoPanel and ImmunoSignal services, together with BioMAP Phenotypic Profiling and Screening services, comprise the Eurofins Discovery Phenotypic Centre of Excellence. Since 2000, this team of scientific and operational experts has advanced candidate pipelines for nearly 500 clients. With technical capabilities centrally located, the team is well positioned to provide greater impact, with crossplatform collaborations and tailored services.

OncoPanel allows profiling of test agents and combinations across a range of cancer types, guiding patient population selection and stratification. With over 300 2D and 100 3D cancer cell line models, including epigenetic, kinase, and gene-focused panels, thorough candidate assessment is possible. ImmunoSignal offers test agent profiling using a suite of assays to evaluate effects on immune cell and Toll-like receptor function. BioMAP services consist of quality-assured human primary cell systems to model specific disease states, analytics powered by the BioMAP Reference Database to provide actionable insights, and expert interpretation of compound activities on translationally relevant biomarker readouts. BioMAP Oncology Panels enable scientists to assess effects of drug candidates in human TME models and BioMAP Combo ELECT services facilitate determination of combination therapy outcomes in any individual system. Eurofins Discovery Phenotypic Services client reports inform on pipeline progression, key opinion leader reports, and investigational new drug applications.

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