In vitro assays - Oncodesign Services

Phenotypic Screening

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Phenotypic screening assays to seek fast cycle times from Hit, Lead to Candidate

Phenotypic screening provides pertinent data to decrease the attrition rate and expedite the translation into clinical applications. At Oncodesign Services, we provide an extensive experience for cell-based assays, including phenotypic screening, to run your molecule from Hit to Candidate.


What is phenotypic screening?

Phenotypic cell-based screen is a method used in drug discovery to identify promising lead compounds. It involves testing various compounds to observe and analyze changes in the cells’ observable characteristics or behaviors, known as phenotypes (such as cell morphology, growth rate, movement, protein expression, or response to stimuli).

The goal of a cell phenotypic screen is to identify compounds that induce desired changes in cell behavior or traits relevant to treating diseases. Unlike traditional target-based screens that focus on specific molecular interactions, phenotypic screens take a broader approach by assessing the overall impact of compounds on cells.

This approach can help identify promising lead compounds for further development and provide insights into complex cellular mechanisms.


When searching for biologically active molecules, phenotypic screening is often the most straightforward and intuitive way to discover relevant hits. The alternative is target-based screening in which a large number of compounds are screened against a single target protein, and subsequently, the active hits can be optimized further through medicinal chemistry efforts.

Phenotypic screening presents an attractive approach for the identification of novel chemical matter for therapeutic areas with complex disease mechanisms or where the disease target is unknown.

Phenotypic Screen - process

Schematic representation of phenotypic screening process

Case study – Phenotypic screening

1-  Phenotypic screen in TNBC spheroid (3D cell line)

2 – Discovery of target C secretion inhibitors using cell engineered phenotypic screen


3-  phenotypic screen in TNBC spheroid (3D cell line)

Oncodesign Services offers hit selection services including phenotypic screening

Oncodesign Services is a contract research organization (CRO) specialized in drug discovery whose mission is to contribute to the discovery of innovative therapies against cancers and serious diseases with high unmet medical needs.

We offer target validation services through complementary approaches and methodologies (3D Culture, RNAi, shRNA, CrispR/Cas9, deconvolution, and other techniques) and evaluating their druggability.



Our study teams aim to increase confidence in the therapeutic target with experimented and integrated services in :

  • Phenotypic screening
  • Primary screening
  • Hit confirmation
  • Target engagement
  • Cell signaling
  • Generation of SAR (Structure-Activity-Relationship)
  • Selectivity assessment
  • Viability cell studies
  • Cell engineering (CRISPR, sh-siRNA, reporter gene, molecular biology constructs, lentivirus…)


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Discover EXPLORE, the best starting point for your Drug Discovery program!

Our EXPLORE offer supports companies in identifying and validating therapeutic targets by investigating preclinical proofs of concept.

The EXPLORE solution is designed to support you:

  • when you are identifying potential therapeutic targets from your patient data or from other approaches in primary cell phenotyping or tumor organoid screening
  • when you are experimentally validating selected targets, through complementary approaches and methodologies (RNAi, shRNA, CRISPR/Cas9, deconvolution, and other techniques) and evaluating their druggability