PhenoTyper setup

NeuroBasic PharmaPhenomics consortium kicks off

Saturday, 19 March, 2011

Noldus joins in the development of new drug discovery strategies

Wageningen, 25 May 2011 - Noldus Information Technology joins the new research consortium NeuroBasic PharmaPhenomics (www.neurobasic.nl) in their efforts to develop new drug discovery strategies in both neurology and psychiatry. This project builds on the successes of Neuro-Bsik Mouse Phenomics (www.neurobsik.nl), the consortium in which Noldus was responsible for the development of an automated home cage technology that allowed the investigation of mouse models in an enriched environment. Over the years, this has resulted in a successful product that is now commercially available and known as the PhenoTyper.

Moving forwards with the successes of Neuro-Bsik

In the beginning of 2004, a consortium of leading neuroscience institutes and corporations launched a major research initiative; Neuro-Bsik Mouse Phenomics. Its aim was to select mouse models that exhibit behavioral abnormalities relevant for human brain diseases. Secondly, these lines were further investigated using a newly developed automatic home cage technology, called the PhenoTyper, from consortium partner Noldus Information Technology. Seven years later, the consortium can look back on the successful establishment of novel mouse models and their links to human brain disorders. Many of which are already pursued successfully.

The Mouse Phenomics consortium established a unique, high-throughput screening system to identify novel genes that contribute to behavioral abnormalities in mice. Time to take the next step in a new consortium: NeuroBasic PharmaPhenomics. This new project exploits the new technology and the unique library of phenograms that resulted from Mouse Phenomics – designing new strategies for treatment and tools that lead to the shortening of the drug discovery pipeline. It aims to improve early stage drug development with so called pharma-phenomics, well-characterized genetic animal models and response classification systems. A novel approach to drug development. 

Part of Dutch Life Sciences and Health sector plan

Two years ago, the Dutch Life Sciences and Health sector proposed a plan for translational research in health-related life sciences. It aims to deliver health and wealth while reinforcing an already strong scientific base. To do this, the sector has been divided into four clusters: Diagnosis, Drugs, Regenerative Medicine and Enabling Technology and Infrastructure. The Drugs cluster includes two research lines that include the work of NeuroBasic PharmaPhenomics; to develop drug discovery strategies for both the field of neurology and the field of psychiatry.

Breakthrough of the PhenoTyper technology

The NeuroBasic consortium is expected to yield academic, societal, and commercial benefits. Hardware and software products such as the PhenoTyper, Catwalk XT and EthoVision XT which are already commercially available will be further developed. In fact, Noldus and consortium partners Synaptologics and Delta Phenomics foresee a breakthrough of the PhenoTyper technology in the pharmaceutical industry.

The project is divided into several work packages, one of which is led by Lucas Noldus, president of Noldus Information Technology bv. The aim of this work package is to extend the PhenoTyper system with new functions, such as new stimuli devices, cage improvements, and the integration of biotelemetry (to measure body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure). CatWalk XT, another product of Noldus, will also be improved. Together with the Erasmus Ladder, these products are expected to discriminate hundreds of behavioral parameters.

Why this need?

Brain and Central Nervous System disorders are prevalent, often chronic, and have detrimental  effects on the quality of life of many people. It is also a costly matter, responsible for a third of the European health budget. Still, many therapies have a low success rate, thus the need for drug innovation is great. But the business of discovering and developing new medicines finds itself in a difficult position these days. The demand increases, but the number of candidate drugs that reach approval is decreasing each year.

Understanding phenotype – genotype relations

Understanding the relationship between genes and behavioral abnormalities could be of great benefit when it comes to understanding why certain therapies fail to obtain high success rates. This brings us one step closer to developing drugs that actually do work. The NeuroBasic consortium aims to provide an integrated analysis of genetic brain disease models; from genes to pathology and behavior. To accomplish this, they will build on the medium- and high-throughput testing technology and procedures that were developed during the Neuro-Bsik project. The NeuroBasic PharmaPhenomics consortium and Noldus both expect to contribute to the further development of phenotypic analysis in the grand scene of discovering new rodent models for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

For more information on the NeuroBasic PharmaPhenomics consortium, visit www.neurobasic.nl. For more information on the PhenoTyper, go to www.noldus.com/phenotyper

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