Innovative optogenetic approach in screening

Webinar Summary:

The field of optogenetics has been growing rapidly in the last decade, providing new and appealing approaches for both identification of new drugs and development of novel therapeutic solutions. Axxam pioneered the transfer of optogenetic methods from academic research to fully automated screening platforms, such as the FLIPR instrument.

Several light actuators and sensors were used at Axxam to control cellular assays featuring ion channels, transporters, GPCRs, in a contactless and reversible manner. To fully exploit the potentiality of light controlled HTS, Axxam developed a light pacing apparatus that lightly controls the flashing of 384 well fluorescence plate imagers. By this tool, either sodium or calcium channels could be paced at different frequencies and beating cardiomyocytes could also be synchronized by light.Finally, as the advantages of light-controlled tools also enter the field of human medicine, Axxam developed stability studies for a vision restoration gene therapy drug.

This webinar will give a brief tour of all the steps of optogenetics drug discovery at Axxam, from methods to instrumentation and pharmacological characterizations.


Optogenetics, drug discovery, ion channels, cardiomyocytes, channelrhodopsin, sensors, use-dependency, FLIPR, light pacing, HTS, photomedicine.


  • Viviana Agus – Unit Manager, Cell Biology, Axxam S.p.A.

Viviana Agus joined Axxam in 2001 just after her Biology Masters degree; she worked as a scientist for several years, in particular setting up cell-based assays for different targets: GPCR, ion channels, transporters, hormone receptors, etc. She gained strong experience with most of the automated 384 well screening platform, then in 2015 she started developing a platform of Optogenetic assays to be used in drug discovery, taking care of both scientific scouting, creation of cellular models, and invention of new dedicated instrumentation. She is currently Unit Manager of one of Axxam Cell Biology team, managing both internal research activities and fee-for service projects for Clients.

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