High-Throughput Screening

What is high-throughput screening (HTS)?

High-throughput screening (HTS) uses automated equipment to quickly test thousands to millions of samples for biological activity at the molecular, pathway, cellular, or organism level. In addition to screening small molecule compounds, HTS may also screen other substances such as natural product extracts, chemical mixtures, antibodies, and oligonucleotides.

Due to the nature of rapid screening with large daily caseloads, HTS relies on relatively simple and automation-compatible assay designs, automated data processing, and robotic-assisted sample handling.

One specialized designation of HTS is quantitative high-throughput screening (qHTS), in which compounds are tested at multiple concentrations using an HTS platform. qHTS has become popular in toxicology because it more fully characterizes the biological effects of chemicals and decreases the number of false negatives and false positives.

Why is HTS important for healthcare?

HTS is often used by biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to identify compounds with biological or pharmacological activity. These compounds are then utilized as a starting point for medicinal chemical optimization during drug discovery and development.

As such, HTS helps to promote drug discovery and improves the pharmacological options for patients. Increasing the output of this process also allows companies to produce drugs at a lower cost.