High throughput screening is a gold standard for discovering ‘hits’ during the early stages of drug discovery. It uses automation to test hundreds of thousands of drug-like chemicals against a biological target. The ‘hits’ discovered using high throughput screening provide a starting point for the development of new drugs.
The Screening Lab supports WEHI’s pipeline of drug discovery programs progressing across stages from assay development, hit identification and validation, hit-to-lead and lead optimisation. Staff have expertise in developing robust, miniaturised assays (384 and 1536 well formats) amenable to HTS for all major therapeutically relevant target classes. For screening campaigns, researchers can access our collections of over 500,000 lead-like compounds, or provide a library of their own for screening.
The facility is equipped with three ultra-high throughput robotic platforms, providing capability for both biochemical and cell-based assays. The platforms support a wide variety of detection modalities including absorbance, fluorescence, fluorescence polarisation, FRET, time-resolved FRET, luminescence, high throughput flow cytometry, high content imaging and mass spectrometry. These capabilities are underpinned by a laboratory information management system and powerful data analysis tools.
The facility has also recently established on-site compound management capabilities with the installation of a SampleStore SE-II (Azenta) with a humidity-controlled atmosphere to maintain compound integrity. This houses our onsite collection of over 270,000 diverse lead-like compounds for screening and hit identification. In addition, WEHI is a founding member of the Australian Lead Identification Consortium (ALIDC), which provides access to a further 330,000 compounds with lead-like characteristics. This capability is complemented by our liquid handling instrumentation which enables dispensing over a wide volume range from high volume (Tecan Fluent) to low nl volumes using Echo 555 and 655 acoustic dispensers (Labcyte).
The Screening Lab exploits state-of-the-art robotic equipment to enhance the scope and speed of the pre-clinical drug discovery process. It supports a large number of projects that include proprietary WEHI projects, academic collaborations with other research institutions and universities, collaborative projects with industry partners (biotech and pharma) and projects subsidised by the Australian Government, specifically supporting Australian scientists from academic institutions and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).