Compound screening; The Oncode Drug Repurposing library (LUMC and NKI)

Keywords: access to library, novel indications for known drugs and compounds

Location: LUMC and NKI
Contact person: Jacqueline Staring

If you would like to make use of this facility, please contact please contact Jacqueline Staring (Oncode Institute).

How it can help you

The Oncode drug screening centres of expertise in the LUMC and the NKI provide investigators with advice and support to perform compound screens with the Drug Repurposing library.

Drug repurposing is an effective approach to rapidly identify novel indications for known drugs and compounds. In order to support researchers in bringing novel therapeutic applications to the patient at affordable costs, Oncode has acquired the next generation Drug Repurposing library, which contains more than 6.000 drugs in various stages of clinical development (abandoned, off-patent, launched, etc). The unique composition of the library is described in a publication of the Broad Institute in Nature Medicine.

The Drug Repurposing programme enables all Oncode researchers to have access to the library. Furthermore, Oncode will provide interested investigators with the technical infrastructure and expertise that is required to perform compound screens, even with a complex experimental setup.

Through the Drug Repurposing programme Oncode scientists can:

  • Get support and guidance in designing, setting up, and developing of their screening assay.
  • Potentially find active compounds that effect a target of interest.
  • Study combination drug responses to identify synergistic and antagonistic interactions.
  • Systematically evaluate drug effects across different cellular contexts.
  • All Oncode Investigators are invited to submit a project.
  • If you plan to finance and execute a high-throughput campaign by yourself or with a collaborator, you can also request a copy of the library from Oncode Institute.
  • There are possibilities to use the compound library as non-Oncode members. Please contact us for further information.

Eligibility criteria

  • All Oncode Investigators are invited to submit a project.
  • If you plan to finance and execute a high-throughput campaign by yourself or with a collaborator, you can also request a copy of the library from Oncode Institute.
  • There are possibilities to use the compound library as non-Oncode members. Please contact us for further information.

In what way does Oncode provide the technical infrastructure and expertise that is required to use the drug repurposing library?

The execution of high through-put compound screens can be challenging. Assay development, performing the actual screen, and data analysis might be new to you. Two Centres of Expertise (COE) are therefore available to help you in every step of the way, making sure that you obtain useful results.

Our two COEs are located within Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) and the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI). Once your proposal is approved, Oncode will connect you to one of the two COEs, which will assist you with further assay development (when required) to make sure your assay is suitable for their high-throughput screening systems. Afterwards, they can perform your screen in their advanced robotic screening facilities. They can also assist you in the downstream analysis and follow-up experiments to validate the obtained results. Finally, they can advise you on how to continue with the eventual lead compounds that the screen has yielded.

For more info on how to apply, please contact Jacqueline Staring at Oncode or one of the COEs (Roderick Beijersbergen at the NKI).

Who are the involved advisors and what is their background?

  • Roderick Beijerbergen is the head of the Robotics and Screening Centre at the NKI. This COE has advanced liquid handling robotics platforms which are capable of aliquoting libraries to assay plates. Such platforms are coupled to - or are complemented by - automated incubators, plate stackers, heaters, coolers, shakers, robotic arms, sealers, labellers, and barcode readers for advanced screening applications. Depending on the essay, the platform can utilize a multilabel reader or an automated high content microscope to obtain single cell readings for each screen. The data obtained is stored and analysed with Screensaver software.
  • Huib Ovaa was the head the COE at the Leiden University Medical Center. This group focuses on searching for inhibitors of enzymatic activities by en masse screening of small molecule libraries. The COE excels in lead-optimization and in the development of biochemical tools by rational design. The COE at the LUMC applies the method that fits the needs of follow-up investigations using innovative tools that are developed in-house. Furthermore, they have extensive experience in organic synthesis, the so-called “intein” chemistry, expressed protein ligation (i.e. chemo-selective addition of a peptide to a recombinant protein), mass spectrometry, protein purification, fluorescence-based techniques, FACS analysis, confocal microscopy, and various standard biochemical techniques.

For any specific or technical questions, you can contact Jacqeline Staring at or Roderick Beijersbergen at

Can the screen only be performed within the two Centres of Expertise?

No. If you have a facility yourself, or if you have a collaborator that can help you, you can request a copy of the library for your own use.

However, the screening facilities supported by our programme have the compound library in stock, the expertise and equipment to perform the screen , and are ready and happy to help.

For more information on requesting a copy of the compound library, please contact Jacqueline Staring.

What are the specific scientific and legal benefits of choosing this compound library over other larger libraries or performing a genetic screen?

Most of the compounds in this library were only tested in a limited setting, meaning not all possible applications were investigated. It is very likely that we can pick up on active compounds which were initially missed. There is a clear advantage to being able to do a more targeted screen and find novel targets that were not previously identified.

Besides this, a wealth of information on the compounds that are in the Drug Repurposing library is available - such as previously identified targets, structure and purity of the compounds, clinical phase data, and known indications. You can find more information on these here.

Last, if researchers find a new application for a drug that is already licenced for patient use, it could be clinically developed at a much faster pace and with less costs involved.

Do you have a plug-and-play screening setup?

Yes, we do, but depending on the stage of your screening essay, you might have to optimize that first. One of our COEs can advise and assist you in this process. As soon as the assay is suitable for the robot, the screen can be executed.

Which scientists can get involved in this programme? Do they have to be formal Oncode collaborators?

Scientists should be supported by an Oncode Investigator to be able to apply for the full programme. Scientists that are not affiliated with Oncode can get access to a copy of the library, but only if they are working on an oncology related topic. Please note that scientists not affiliated with Oncode will not be financially supported by Oncode.

Researchers that are not affiliated to Oncode cannot use the library to study non-cancer related topics. What about Oncode Investigators?

Oncode Investigators can apply for a copy of the library to study a non-cancer related topic. However, Oncode will not finance or support that specific screen.

What about working on COVID-19 related topics?

Oncode will make an exception to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Investigators that wish to use the library for coronavirus related topics are therefore invited to contact us.

For further information, please contact Jacqueline Staring, programme manager at Oncode.

Jacqueline Staring

Jacqueline Staring

Programme Manager

After her study of Biomedical Sciences at Utrecht University, Jacqueline finished her PhD in virology and functional genetics at the Netherlands cancer institute. She then moved to Denmark to do a postdoc in ancient pathogens and genomics at the University of Copenhagen. At Oncode, Jacqueline is working on the technology focussed programmes such as the Drug Repurposing, Equipment & Infrastructure, and Technology Access programmes. She also likes to engage the younger Oncode community and is therefore for instance co-organizing the Oncode postdoc retreats.

Programme Manager