Experimental Imaging Center

Drug Screening Technologies



Andrea Menegon


Recent years have witnessed an evolution in the approach to drug discovery. The conventional molecular target-based screening is now combined with cell- based phenotypic approaches, where targets do not need to be known and active lead compounds are selected based on their capability to ameliorate the disease phenotype. In most pathological contexts the intrinsic complexity of the phenotypes, require the use of ad hoc cellular models as well as sophisticated testing technologies.

Research activity

By taking advantage from long-established competences in, neurophysiology, pharmacology and microscopy, we develop leading-edge solutions for small and medium-scale drug screening programs. In our cell based assays, we develop and employ either immortalized cell lines or cells differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) obtained from patients or normal human subjects. This ambitious research program is possible thanks to the long-standing collaboration with research groups from IRCCS Ospedale San Raffaele, Politecnico di Milano as well as biotechnological and pharmaceutical chemical companies.

We have recently patented a new methodology, and developed a prototype, for ion channel automated drug screening programs in intact cells as well as an innovative fluorescence-based approach for membrane potential measurement for functional optical studies. These approaches can be complemented by a drug profiling analysis performed by extracellular electrophysiology: a bioreactor for multielectrode array (MEA) measurements that permits the study of neuronal activity and connectivity under control environmental conditions on multiple samples simultaneously. Our current field of interest is the screening of molecules active on pH sensitive channels (ASIC channels). A drug discovery program, based on rationally designed compounds, is active for the identification of new ASIC channels modulators.