Horizon eBook - 5

Phenotypic Screens
Rise in Popularity
Agnes Shanley


| GENengnews.com

particular manner.
In the journal article, David Swinney, M.D.,
CEO and cofounder of the Institute for Rare and
Neglected Diseases Drug Discovery, and Jason
Anthony, then at Roche in Palo Alto, found that
28 of the 50 first-in-class small-molecule drugs
approved by the FDA between 1999 and 2008 had
been discovered with phenotypic rather than target
assays. The authors asked whether a too "targetcentric" approach to drug discovery might be
contributing to high attrition rates and lower
R&D productivity.
Since the article appeared, more laboratories
have been stepping up their use of phenotypic
screening, which is being updated through use of

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s pharma's R&D productivity crisis
continues, more researchers are asking
whether there hasn't been too much reliance on
target-based screening methods at the expense
of empirical experimental biology. "Perhaps we
were expecting too much from the single-target
paradigm," says Andreas Vogt, Ph.D., an associate
professor of computational and systems biology
at the University of Pittsburgh.
An article in the July 2011 issue of Nature
Reviews Drug Discovery described a renewed
interest in phenotypic screening. The goal of this
technique is to identify substances such as small
molecules, peptides, and RNAI that can alter
the phenotype of a cell or an organism in a

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