High-content screening to identify bioactive small molecules

High-content screening (HCS) implies multi-parameter analysis of (sub)populations of cells, single cells and subcellular events in a set-up compatible with high-throughput screening and automation. VIB, KU Leuven, Ghent University and the Cancer Research Institute Ghent (CRIG) make HCS technology accessible for the broad life sciences research community via the VIB Screening Core, a centralized facility that also embeds the Ghent University Expertise Centre for Bioassay Development and Screening (C-BIOS). The HCS platform at the VIB Screening Core/C-BIOS integrates confocal microscopy with liquid handling and a broad range of detection technologies for high-throughput applications.

A dedicated team of experts operates the platform and assists researchers in the development, miniaturization and automation of bioassays relevant for disease and/or biological pathways. The infrastructure is compatible with bioassays in cellular model systems, 3D cell cultures, unicellular model organisms and small model organisms (e.g. Arabidopsis thaliana, zebrafish...) in a miniaturized format. Combined with the available screening infrastructure, these bioassays can be applied to analyze a large number of samples in high-throughput mode. A diverse set of 45,000 drug-like synthetic molecules, a set of 2,400 known drugs/bioactives and a human siRNA collection (8,000 genes, the druggable genome) is available to set-up these high-throughput screenings.

The VIB Screening Core/C-BIOS provides operational support at the different levels of discovery;
• Converting microscopic observations into high-content quantitative parameters
• Miniaturizing and automating bioassays
• Performing multi-parametric screenings in high-throughput mode
• Biological profiling of drugs/compounds in disease-relevant bioassays

The VIB Screening Core/C-BIOS offers the infrastructure and expertise to the academic research community and to biotech/pharma companies to support and strengthen strategic basic research and translational research. This joint effort between VIB, KU Leuven, Ghent University and CRIG will open avenues to generate chemical tools/probes for the study of biological processes and to validate targets/modes-of-action for a range of disease areas. The activities of the VIB Screening Core/C-BIOS can be positioned in the early stages of drug/agro discovery.


Vera Goossens (1,2), Long Nguyen (1,2), Andrzej Drozdzecki (1,2), Dominique Audenaert (1,2)


"(1) Screening Core, VIB, Technologiepark 71, 9052 Gent, Belgium (2) Centre for Bioassay Development and Screening (C-BIOS), Ghent University, Technologiepark 71, 9052 Gent, Belgium"

Presenting author

Dominique Audenaert, Head of Facility, VIB
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