This website has been developed and is being maintained on behalf of ESFRI by the StR-ESFRI project which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement n° 654213
The high-throughput screening platforms and chemistry resources for Life Sciences
The European Infrastructure of Open Screening Platforms for Chemical Biology (EU-OPENSCREEN) is a distributed Research Infrastructure that develops novel small chemical compounds which elicit specific biological responses on organisms, cells or cellular components. EU-OPENSCREEN enables scientists to use compound screening methods to validate novel therapeutic targets and support basic mechanistic studies addressing fundamental questions in cellular physiology – across human, animal and plant systems – using the methods of chemical biology. As a large-scale RI with an “open” pre-competitive character, EU-OPENSCREEN is a cost-effective solution to the need of the broad scientific community providing access to Europe’s leading screening platforms and chemistry groups, constructing a jointly used compound collection and operating an open-access database accessible on a global basis.
In the ESFRI Roadmap since 2008, EU-OPENSCREEN has established the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) in 2018.
Understanding how biological processes operate and how the underlying mechanisms function at the organismic, cellular, and molecular level is fundamental to a knowledge-based management of the needs and risks of the world’s growing population. This understanding touches all aspects of life such as human health and well-being, nutrition and environment. Ground-breaking insights into cellular and organismic metabolic or signalling pathways, which are involved – e.g in the progression of diseases – are gained by studying the effect of chemical compounds on biological systems – i.e. pharmacology. Post-genome biology with its powerful technologies of genome sequencing, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics has provided a deluge of information on new cellular targets for basic research and early drug discovery. Unfortunately, the availability of suitable tools for systematic biochemical investigation of cellular target and pathway function is substantially lagging behind this deluge of omics data. This forms the basis for the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in health research and opens novel opportunities in many other areas of the Life Sciences.
EU-OPENSCREEN integrates high-capacity screening platforms throughout Europe, which jointly use a rationally selected compound collection, comprising commercial and proprietary compounds collected from international chemists. By testing systematically and repeatedly this chemical collection in hundreds of assays originating from very different biological themes, the screening process generates enormous amounts of information about the biological activities of the substances and thereby steadily enriches our understanding of how and where they act. EU-OPENSCREEN supports all stages of a tool development project, including assay adaptation, high-throughput screening, and chemical optimisation of the hit compounds. All tool compounds and data are made available to the scientific community.
EU-OPENSCREEN may have several impacts, not only from the perspective of the RI in sharing technologies and data but also from the societal point of view. This is exemplified by mentioning the demand to generate improved efficacy and safety of health treatments in the day-to-day lives of European citizens. In addition to pharmacology applications in early drug discovery and toxicology, EU-OPENSCREEN also covers the production of crop-protective compounds, which are of paramount importance to society via the understanding of the response of wild or crop plants to environmental and agricultural substances. The broad biology approach of EU-OPENSCREEN will promote the availability of safe, efficacious and sustainable chemical products for unmet needs in medicine, nutrition, agriculture and the environment.
Academic stakeholders, providing the physical screening infrastructure, are joined by industrial stakeholder companies – large, medium and small – of the Pharmaceutical, Agri-Science and Biotechnology sectors. By doing so, EU-OPENSCREEN will advance the development of solutions for the Grand Challenges and guarantee the European competitiveness.