NL-OPENSCREENA Dutch small molecule screening and hit optimisation facility for the translation of biomedical research findings

Contact details:

Prof. dr. H. Ovaa
Plesmanlaan 121 1066 CX Amsterdam
+31 20 512 1979

NL-OPENSCREEN makes small molecule screening available to life science researchers. This will considerably enhance the impact of biomedical research while it will give the commercialization of fundamental research results a major push. Traditional pharmaceutical industry invests less in the development of innovative medicines, which creates novel opportunities for basic Life Science researchers. NL-OPENSCREEN will provide the link that is currently missing in the Netherlands to turn basic research into novel therapeutic strategies.

This consortium entails a national academic infrastructure called NL-OPENSCREEN, that is open to
the Dutch life science community. Through NL-OPENSCREEN we make small-molecule libraries and
screening facilities available for high throughput and high content testing against bio-molecular
targets of scientific interest. Optimization programs are provided, in which hit structures are
developed by chemical modification. This provides new and enabling research tools for fundamental
biological and biomedical studies, as well as for further development into drug candidates.
Currently, molecular genetics has evolved to a point that new bio-molecular targets and pathways
are being discovered almost on a daily basis. These targets are often of great interest, but their
study requires small molecules, or chemical probes, to modulate their function and that of the
biophysical pathways they are part of. Such small-molecule regulators often do not exist. There is
therefore an urgent need for chemical probes that modulate promising targets and pathways that
can form the basis of novel targeted therapies.
NL-OPENSCREEN provides Dutch life scientists with molecules that allow them to modulate their
targets of interest. For this purpose, we make manned screening platforms available, guide assay
translation and offer optimization programs comprising the molecule development required to
translate screening hits into useful probes or even candidate drugs. NL-OPENSCREEN will deliver
screening hits, but specifically also furthers the development of molecules into chemical probes,
both for breakthrough basic research and as candidate drugs.
The highly interdisciplinary nature of drug development is recognized in The Netherlands by two
“Topsectoren”, namely the “Topsector Chemistry“ and the “Topsector Life Sciences and Health”.
Both have specifically stipulated that strong interactions between chemists and life scientists are
essential for the development of future therapies. This is also recognized as one of the key areas
for future research as outlined in the ‘Nationale Wetenschapsagenda’. NL-OPENSCREEN is essential
to fulfill these ambitions.
In order to realize NL-OPENSCREEN, the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) screening facility and
the screening facility at the Pivot Park Screening Center (PPSC) in Oss, together with seven
synthetic chemistry labs, joined forces to offer screens and optimization programs to Dutch life
science researchers. The NKI has a worldwide reputation in genetic screening experiments, an
activity that was supplemented with small molecule screening options more recently, whereas the
facility in Oss has its roots in decades of pharmaceutical industry experience. NL-OPENSCREEN
opens an avenue to test 200,000 high quality drug-like molecules on innovative targets while the
NKI assists with assay translation and focused smaller screens with targeted compound sets as well
as phenotypic high information density-screens. Also, dedicated synthesis and optimization
programs will be conducted by chemistry partners with a worldwide reputation and expertise, to
ensure rapid optimization of screening results. The ultra-throughput screening facility in Oss
currently forms the heart of the European Lead Factory (ELF), a five-year initiative financed through
the European Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) program. NL-OPENSCREEN will build on this
expertise and aims to participate in EU-OPENSCREEN (, an ESFRI
roadmap project that aims to provide a pan-European infrastructure of screening platforms for
chemical biology research.

Connection to strategic developments
Life Sciences & Health
Health and Food