Label-free High Content Screening
The classical way of developing a drug for a specific disease is to test a number of drug candidates and see if any of them reduce or entirely remove the symptom of the disease. Understanding why the drug works is of less importance. This good old trial-and-error strategy is known in the pharma industry as phenotypic drug discovery. The expression originates from the word phenotype – an observable characteristic of an organism, e.g. hair color.
In the 1990s the reverse approach became popular. From a hypothesis of what is causing the disease, researchers search for a drug that specifically targets the disease causing compound, often a protein. Using a method known as high-throughput screening, a huge number of drug candidates are screened in a brute-force fashion for the desired effect on the target compound.