Drug Screening

Our service offering is based on the state-of-the-art ZEBRAONCOFISH Platform and biobank for a range of cancer discases, drug screening and our personalized medicines for cancer patients

In vitro efficacy assessement

Cell viability/cytotoxicity and antiproliferative assays

One of the main features of cancer is uncontrolled cell proliferation. Stable cell lines or human cancer cells derived from patient biopsies can be used in a wide range of cell-based assays for drug screenings to determine the cytotoxic or antiproliferative effect of tested compounds. Some of these available tests are:
  • Colorimetric assays (MTT, MTS…)
  • Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) assays
  • Lactate dehydrogenase assays
  • Dye exclusion assays

Apoptosis evaluation

Apoptosis is a gene-directed process responsible for programmed cell death. One of the events that human cancer cells can suffer is the loss of the apoptotic control, which enhances cell survival, tumor growth and invasiveness. For this reason, the effect of new compounds in apoptosis has become a promising approach in anticancer therapy. The effect of the tested molecules on cell apoptosis can be assessed by the detection of caspases.

Cell migration and invasion assays

Cancer cells posses the ability to migrate and invade neighboring tissues. These processes are involved in metastasis. It occurs when cells spread through the body to reach other organs and tissues. Metastasis is one of the major events in cancer, which relates to higher mortality. Cell migration and invasion can be evaluated by cell-based experiments such as the scratch or the Boyden chamber assay.

Energy metabolism assays

The metabolism of the cancer cells is altered in order to obtain the required energy to grow and spread. The efficacy of the compounds that target the metabolism of these tumoral cells can be in vitro evaluated by several assays such as:
  • Glucose uptake assays
  • Assessment of glycolitic enzymes
  • Oxygen consumption assays
  • Lactate assays

Gene expression assessment

Reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is a rapid and sensitive molecular technique that allows the analysis of gene expression. Using cell-based assays we are able to evaluate the antitumoral effect of tested compounds on the expression of a wide range of genes:
  • Proliferation
  • Apoptosis related genes.
  • Angiogenesis genes.
  • Stem cells markers.
  • Differentiation/ dedifferentiation genes
  • Genes involved in drug metabolism.

In vivo toxicity evaluation

Acute toxicity

One of the biggest concerns in drug development is toxicity. The window between the therapeutic effect and the unacceptable side effects is usually very narrow. Zebrafish embryos have become a much more rapid, ethical and inexpensive animal model than the traditional murine model to screen the in vivo toxic effect of promising compounds.

Developmental toxicity

Ikan Biotech counts on DanioScope software developed by Noldus. This tool enables the rapid and automated evaluation of the malformations that could appear in zebrafish embryos as a result of their contact with toxic compounds. The analysis of multiple parameters is available, such as:

  • Length and diameters of body parts.
  • Early activity of the developing embryo.


The awareness of the cardiotoxicity of chemotherapy agents has been recently increased, as it has been claimed to impair the cardiovascular system of the oncology patients. Thus, the analysis of the cardiotoxicity of tested compounds is a key step in the drug development process. Using DanioScope, we can assess the cardiotoxic effect of the tested compounds on zebrafish embryos by analysing:

  • Heart diameter.
  • Speed of blood flowing.
  • Activity of the heart.

In vivo compound efficacy evaluation


Tumor cells obtained from patients can be transplanted into zebrafish embryos to develop a zebrafish patient derived xenograft (zPDX) model. This animal model resembles human cancer more accurately than cell-based assays and offers some advantages for drug screenings previously mentioned comparing to the murine model.
Ikan Biotech provide a collection of human cancer cells isolated from patients presenting different genetic profiles with clinical relevance (amplification, mutations…) to assess the in vivo anti-tumoral effect of promising compounds.