SyneBio: an ERC Proof of concept on the automatic testing of drug combinations

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ERC just announced the list of the 55 projects granted in the frame of the ERC Proof of Concept Call (ERC POC). Among them, the project SyneBio carried out at the Biophysics and Evolution team of the CBI lab at ESPCI Paris – PSL aims at developing an automatic system to test drug combination.

Combining drugs could improve the efficiency of treatment or reduce its toxicity. Yet until now, there is not any systematic technique allowing for testing such combinations at a high rate.
A team at ESPCI, led by Philippe Nghe, with PhD student Reza Kowsari-Esfahan, uses the expertise in microfluidics at the school, to develop a unique setup.
Within the SyneBio Project, they will create a device with 900 compartments with a volume 100 to 1000 times smaller than the ones used in traditional experiments on drug combinations, each containing a 3D cell model much more relevant to obtain reliable physiological results. A network of microchannels will distribute and deliver the drugs in each compartment. To assess the efficiency of the drugs, fluorescence microscopy will be used to detect markers of cell growth in each compartment.
Within two years, the team expects to have a fully developed instrument, which could be used as a CRO (contract research organization) in the pharmaceutical industry. Stakes are huge in the field, especially with the possibility of combining already FDA-approved drugs or even investigational ones.
The grant will be 150 000 € worth, with two recruited people (in cell biology and in microfluidics). The project was previously a laureate of the PSL/Qlife pre-maturation grant and received a French Tech i-PhD grant.

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