Optimization of a higher throughput microsomal stability screening assay for profiling drug discovery candidates
Metabolic stability plays an important role in the success of drug candidates. First-pass metabolism is one of the major causes of poor oral bioavailability and short half-life. Traditionally, metabolic stability was evaluated at a later stage of drug discovery and required laborious manual manipulations. With the advance of high-throughput screening, combinatorial chemistry, and early profiling of drug-like properties, automated and rapid stability assays are needed to meet the increasing demand of throughput, speed, and reproducibility at earlier stages of drug discovery. The authors describe optimization of a simple, robust, high-throughput microsomal stability assay developed in a 96-well format. The assay consists of 2 automated components: robotic sample preparation for incubation and cleanup and rapid liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) analysis to determine percent remaining of the parent compound. The reagent solutions and procedural steps were optimized for automation. Variables affecting assay results were investigated. The variability introduced by microsome preparations from different sources (various vendors and batches) was studied and indicates the need for careful control. Quality control and normalization of the stability results are critical when applying the screening data, generated at different times or research sites, to discovery projects.