Ground-breaking assay platform for neurodegenerative disease research

Spreading of neurodegenerative disease associated peptides (NDAPs; e.g. amyloid-beta peptides, tau and alpha-synuclein) within the human brain is one of the earliest pathological processes leading to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. However, high capacity platforms capable of modeling these progressive neuropathological processes are missing.

To address this gap, we developed an assay platform that can model the hallmark features of the neurodegenerative disease cascade, including prion-like spreading of NDAPs within CNS neuronal circuits. The platform is based on a newly developed microfluidics concept that enables local interventions in compartmentalized in vitro neuronal circuits.

With our new and patent-protected assay platform, we create highly relevant disease models and innovative assays for functional and morphological screening, which provide an opportunity for our clients to develop highly differentiated therapeutics for several neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Assaying neuronal function in neuropsychiatric disorders

Current strategies for the identification of synaptic drug targets or compounds require either a significant sacrifice in assay throughput or a gross, non-physiological simplification of the model system. Our technology platform eliminates this problem, allowing for higher throughput screening while retaining the ability to measure synaptic communication between neurons.

The platform enables high capacity testing of changes in both excitability and synaptic communication in native neuronal cultures and our assays fill the gap between less complex model systems, such as high throughput screening in over-expressing cell lines, and in vivo animal models.

Further, the functional assays can be coupled to downstream HCA assays to provide complementary data on cellular and network morphology. Our synaptic function assays are enabling drug discovery campaigns for the discovery and development of highly differentiated therapeutics for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Sebastian Illes
Director, CNS research

“Our novel high capacity assay platform targeting progressive neuropathology enables efficient screening and profiling of larger compound sets in the search for new drug candidates for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
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