Author(s): Pereira DA, Williams JA
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Abstract This article reviews the origin and evolution of high throughput screening (HTS) through the experience of an individual pharmaceutical company, revealing some of the mysteries of the early stages of drug discovery to the wider pharmacology audience. HTS in this company (Pfizer, Groton, USA) had its origin in natural products screening in 1986, by substituting fermentation broths with dimethyl sulphoxide solutions of synthetic compounds, using 96-well plates and reduced assay volumes of 50-100 microl. A nominal 30 mM source compound concentration provided high microM assay concentrations. Starting at 800 compounds each week, the process reached a steady state of 7200 compounds per week by 1989. Screening in the Applied Biotechnology and Screening Group was centralized with screens operating in lock-step to maximize efficiency. Initial screens were full files run in triplicate. Autoradiography and image analysis were introduced for (125)I receptor ligand screens. Reverse transcriptase (RT) coupled with quantitative PCR and multiplexing addressed several targets in a single assay. By 1992 HTS produced 'hits' as starting matter for approximately 40\% of the Discovery portfolio. In 1995, the HTS methodology was expanded to include ADMET targets. ADME targets required each compound to be physically detected leading to the development of automated high throughput LC-MS. In 1996, 90 compounds/week were screened in microsomal, protein binding and serum stability assays. Subsequently, the mutagenic Ames assay was adapted to a 96-well plate liquid assay and novel algorithms permitted automated image analysis of the micronucleus assay. By 1999 ADME HTS was fully integrated into the discovery cycle.
This article was published in Br J Pharmacol
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy