BellBrook’s mission is to accelerate drug discovery by providing truly enabling high throughput screening tools for protein targets and phenotypic cellular assays. We strive to make a real and positive impact on human health and build value for our investors and employees by assembling a portfolio of cutting edge, proprietary drug discovery tools. The company’s key values are: Integrity, Focus, Creativity, Initiative, Rationality, Teamwork and Optimism. We put these values into practice in our work every day, and we find that many of our customers in pharma/biotech and academic laboratories do the same, which makes it a pleasure to serve them.
Thus far we have commercialized two technology platforms. Transcreener® is a biochemical HTS detection platform that enables researchers to screen thousands of different enzymes with just a few assays. The iuvo® microconduit array platform is an improvement over multiwell plates that uses specialized microchannel geometries instead of wells to enable more in vivo-like cellular models and functional assays.
Transcreener and iuvo represent the yin and yang of screening-based drug discovery: the highly reductive molecular target approach vs. the more holistic ‘poke and pray’ approach, respectively. Addressing polar discovery philosophies simultaneously can be challenging for a small company, especially from a sales and marketing perspective. But we believe that these are two of the areas where improved screening tools can make the greatest impact on drug discovery. Transcreener is well positioned for the current trend toward pharma/academic collaborations and screening of more diverse targets. With pharma management looking for reasons to eliminate discovery projects, a borderline assay is more than enough to prevent a promising new protein target from being screened. Transcreener helps by providing extensively validated, rock solid HTS performance for a rich diversity of otherwise intractable human and microbial enzymes. To put some flesh on it, the two largest screens we have sold in the last year were for a GTPase and a glycohydrolase – not exactly traditional targets. We’re proud to have made these screens possible, and we hope that they lead to more effective treatments for the diseases being targeted.
On the iuvo side, it seems intuitively obvious that replicating human tissue biology as closely as possible in the assays used during discovery will provide data that are more predictive of how a compound will fare in the clinic. And it is a fact that the majority of the recent first-in-class drugs were discovered using phenotypic assays. Yet….the vast majority of cellular assays are run with cells grown as a monolayer on plastic, a microenvironment that has absolutely no resemblance to tissue. It’s kind of like putting lions in a cage at the zoo; they just don’t behave anything like they do in the wild. With iuvo we have made it possible to use the power of automated high content analysis to probe cells in their native extracellular matrix environment and to look at the dynamics of cell movement. And this is just the beginning; the key to the iuvo technology is that the microconduit geometry can be designed specifically to accommodate the biology of interest, and is limited only by our creativity.
Now is not the most comfortable time to be working in drug discovery. Pharma is trying to increase R&D efficiency, which means people are losing their jobs, and many paradigms, including HTS, are being questioned. But at BellBrook we see this as an opportunity for new technologies to gain traction, so we are excited about the future. And we love what we do: it is fun, inspiring and rewarding and we look forward to working with our creative and dedicated customers to develop the next generation of medicines.