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Artist's impression of cancer cells

PI: Francis Szele

Department: DPAG

Pharmaceutically targeting the migration of brain cells is a significant priority in medical research. Following brain injury, stem cells migrate to the lesion and contribute to repair; and in brain cancer, tumour cell invasion is the leading cause of relapse.

Prof Szele’s group has recently established MIGRAVISION: a powerful cell-based screening platform, to discover molecules that affect neural cell migration. This new approach is the first to accurately recapitulate brain cell migration and tumour invasion in 3-dimensions in vitro.

The core academic research has been completed; the researchers have screened a library of ~1,000 drug-like compounds; successfully identifying 34 that block migration and 21 that stimulate migration.

It is now necesssary to demonstrate that MIGRAVISION can be applied to industrial scale drug discovery by overcoming the following barriers: 1) Expand platform to industry scale application; 2) Provide evidence that the technology is clinically translatable.

The IAA grant will enable the development of novel therapies to either combat tumour invasion or augment reparative migration. In the 12-month project Prof Szele and his group will further develop the core screening platform, optimising each step to remove sources of variability and also establish a robust automated image analysis toolset to improve workflow ready for industrial scale screening. In parallel they will complete a proof of concept pilot study to further prove the superiority of MIGRAVISION over standard methods.

The project has been designed through discussions with the Evotec/Lab282 Expert in Residence. This mentorship will ensure that MIGRAVISION is developed in accordance with industry standards and the intention will be to apply to LAB282 at the successful conclusion of this project.

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