European Lead Factory

F. Giordanetto, P. Jones, A. Nelson, J. Benningshof, G. Müller, A. Pannifer, S. van Boeckel, D. Tzalis, Editor(s): Samuel Chackalamannil, David Rotella, Simon E. Ward, Comprehensive Medicinal Chemistry III, Elsevier, 2017, Pages 505-519, ISBN 9780128032015.


The European Lead Factory (ELF) consortium provides European academics and small and medium enterprises access to ~0.5 million unique compounds, a state-of-the-art ultra-high-throughput screening (u-HTS) platform, and industrial early drug discovery (DD) expertise with the aim of delivering innovative DD starting points. From 2013 to 2018, 154 proposals for eight target classes in seven therapeutic areas were submitted to the ELF consortium, 88 of which were accepted by the selection committee. During this period, 76 primary assays based on seven different readout technologies were optimized and mainly miniaturized to 1536-well plates. In total, 72 u-HTS campaigns were carried out, and follow-up work including hit triage through orthogonal, deselection, selectivity, and biophysical assays were finalized. This ambitious project showed that besides the quality of the compound library and the primary assay, the success of centralized u-HTS of large compound libraries across many target classes, various assay types, and different readout technologies is also largely dependent on the capacity and flexibility of the automation on one hand and the hit-triaging phase on the other, particularly because of undesired compound-assay interference. Thus far, the delivered hit lists from the ELF consortium have resulted in spinoffs, patents, in vivo proof of concepts, preclinical development programs, peer-reviewed publications, PhD theses, and much more, demonstrating early success indications.