17 March 2020

The Oncode Compound Library: find new therapeutic applications that others missed

Elize Brolsma

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 obtained 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.

We spoke with Oncode Investigator René Bernards (Netherlands Cancer Institute) who initially came up with the idea of acquiring the compound library for Oncode. He discusses the added value of this library for researchers and how they can make use of it.

René Bernards: “One of the reasons why I thought this library is of immense added value for Oncode, is that it could support our goal of making healthcare and drug development more affordable. For instance, if researchers find a new application for a drug that is already licenced for patient use, it would mean that we could clinically develop it further at a much faster pace and with less costs involved. In addition, most of the compounds in this library were only tested in a very limited setting, meaning not all possible applications were investigated. Oncode, as a scientific organisation, has broader research questions and hypotheses and has the knowhow and technology to screen for compounds in this library that act on a different range of phenotypes.

“As cancer researchers, we are interested in very specific processes. We want to know whether a process is activated or deactivated by a certain compound. For example, we are interested in targeting senescent cells and it can take up to 7 days before you see any results. It is therefore very likely that we pick up on active compounds which were initially missed by the pharmaceutical industry, as their assays are typically only 3-day assays.”

“The compound library is of great value to Oncode researchers. It really gives them the opportunity to do targeted research and find things that others missed before. As Oncode researchers, we focus on many different types of research and cancers and the library caters for this. This library provides an opportunity for researchers to really gain new insights for their research.”

“Finally, there are currently two centres of expertise within Oncode (the NKI and LUMC) with experts who can support researchers to optimize their assays, execute the screens, and analyse the data, so researchers that are normally not equipped to perform these screens, can now take it a step further.”

The Oncode compound library is now available for all Oncode Investigators. Please contact Jacqueline Staring if you are interested or would like to receive more information.

Jacqueline Staring Programme Manager

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