An escalation in drug discovery activities in the Asia Pacific region is likely to cause significant growth for technologies used in high-throughput screening, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.
However, as demand for target screening escalates, high throughput screening (HTS) equipment makers are being challenged to increase throughput, while simultaneously keeping the process cost effective, it notes.
"Despite solving technological bottlenecks, such ultra high throughput systems come with a heavy price tag beyond the reach of many potential users restricting their easy adoption," says F&S research analyst Anand Ramakrishnan.
One of the strategies to reduce the cost of screening while increasing throughput is miniaturisation, since this reduces the volumes of target, test compounds and reagents used during HTS.
"Miniaturised plates require lesser volume of these ingredients as they have smaller wells. In addition, miniaturisation allows more assays to carry out simultaneously, increasing throughput,"notes F&S.
Novel detection systems and pipetting systems that could accurately pipette to the entire microplate have gone a long way toward making miniaturisation a viable process, and as the industry incorporates it successfully, growth is ensured, according to Ramakrishnan.
However, as providers continue to improve the HTS technology, hurdles such as integration and standardisation arise. The lack of a common standard for microplate size and compatibility of automation equipment often deters the user, he says.
"The HTS community has not reached an agreement on which assays and instruments should be the standard for the industry [and] the Society of Biomolecular Screening (SBS) is still a long way from reaching standard protocol among companies," points out Ramakrishnan.
Another challenge faced by HTS companies is the delay caused by assay development, a phase which is integral to the HTS process. This is largely because target identification and validation are time-consuming initial processes that remain limiting factors for HTS assay development.
Effectively utilising cutting-edge tools such as genomics and proteomics to identify new drug targets and establish disease models will catalyse the HTS process and increase cost effectiveness, thereby attracting a larger number of users, according to the report.
A Strategic Assessment of HTS in the Asia Pacific Life Sciences Market is included as part of F&S' Asia Pac Biotech subscription. For more details, visit the publisher's website.