Development of automated zebrafish high throughput screening technology platforms to accelerate screening of small molecules in disease models of protein misfolding and aggregation


Competition: Québec / Ontario Program 2013
Funding: $910,000 / 3 years
Beginning: September 2014

This project is a groundbreaking collaboration between researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital (SMH) and Treventis Corporation (both in Toronto), as well as the University of Montreal. Dr. Xiao-Yan Wen (SMH) and Dr. Pierre Drapeau (University of Montreal) are experts in zebrafish models of disease. The zebrafish is a robust model for translational research because of our understanding of zebrafish biology and its overlap with that of humans. Protein misfolding and aggregation are implicated in diverse neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other chronic disease such as diabetes. Treventis has developed a proprietary in silico computer model to identify compounds that inhibit aggregation of a wide variety of amyloid proteins, where these amyloid protein aggregates are known to cause Alzheimer’s disease. The goal of the proposed project is to leverage the academic investigators’ expertise in zebrafish disease models and in the robotic high throughput zebrafish screening facility at SMH to validate the Treventis’ library of compounds identified by their computer model, as well as to demonstrate (using Treventis as a test case) the utility of the zebrafish model and screening facility for automated high throughput drug screening research. The expected outcomes will accelerate Treventis selection of compounds for clinical development in neurodegenerative diseases, as well as establish the SMH’s zebrafish screening facility as the state-of-the-art automated high throughput drug screening facility.

Xiao-Yan Wen

Hôpital St. Michael

Pierre Drapeau

Université de Montréal


Christopher Barden
Treventis Corporation