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Emerging Startup

Single-Cell High-Throughput Drug Screening

Close-up view of droplet microfluidics

Emerging startup: The Weitz Lab has developed a drug discovery platform for extensive drug and drug-combination screening on live cells.

Drug discovery is an expensive and time-consuming process that typically begins with screening large libraries of compounds against a target. Identifying combinatorial drug candidates, which can have synergistic therapeutic effects, further complicates this process as the many possible combinations require exponentially more experiments, materials, and resources. In an industry with low clinical success rates and expensive development processes, improving drug and drug-combination screening is critical.

Researchers in David Weitz’s lab have developed a drug discovery platform for extensive drug and drug-combination screening on live cells. Unprecedented, ultra-high throughput screening is enabled by emulsion microfluidic (lab-on-a-chip) technology, in which up to millions of drug combinations can be tested in a single screen. The resulting platform has orders of magnitude lower cost and higher speed than current technologies enable. Hunter BioDiscovery, a startup emerging from the Weitz Lab, aims to complete the development and validation of this platform in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies. The company then plans to discover, patent, and license out effective drug combinations identified through the screening of publicly available drug libraries and in co-development with pharma.

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