Thousands of approved and investigational drugs can be combined in millions of possible pairings and dose variations, but finding the right combinations can be challenging. To address this inefficiency, NCATS experts have implemented a technology called matrix combination screening, which quickly narrows down a long list of potential drug combinations to find those with the most potential to help patients.
The matrix screening approach uses NCATS’ robotic, high-throughput screening platform to quickly conduct millions of tests to assess the effects of a combination of therapeutic compounds on cellular, molecular or biochemical processes that are relevant to a disease of interest. Scientists can use the results of these screens to pursue further testing of promising drug combinations in animals and, ultimately, humans.
Discovering successful new drug combinations through the matrix platform may yield treatments with increased effectiveness; delayed onset of resistance; and lower, less toxic doses. The results from these screens also may provide scientists with insight into the basic molecular mechanisms of cells as well as a better understanding of how drugs act on the body.
The goal of matrix combination screening at NCATS is to define new combination therapies for rapid translation into clinical trials. Specific objectives include:
- Using new technologies to uncover fundamental aspects of basic cellular function by studying synergistic/additive/antagonistic outcomes from discrete pharmacological interventions.
- Combining the small molecule platform with the NCATS RNA interference platform to achieve a more thorough understanding of the scientific question at hand.