Revolutionizing Drug Discovery for Neurodegenerative Diseases with iPSCs.

Sygnature Discovery collaborates with Axol Bioscience to utilize ​human ​iPSC-derived microglial cells in high-content imaging drug discovery screening workflows.

On 10th October 2023, Sygnature Discovery, a world-leading integrated drug discovery provider and non-clinical solutions provider, has announced a scientific collaboration with human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) experts, Axol Bioscience. 

The collaboration aims to explore the incorporation of human iPSC-derived microglia into high-content imaging in vitro screening workflows. Human iPSC-derived cells are stem cells derived from patient donors that are a powerful tool in biomedical research due to their ability to differentiate into various cell types found in the human body. Microglia are neuro-inflammatory cells that constitute ~10% of the brain’s cell population and are a key therapeutic target in the development of adequate treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.  

By collaborating with Axol Bioscience, Sygnature Discovery aims to enhance its drug discovery capabilities by incorporating human iPSC-derived cells into its high-content imaging and screening workflows. High-content imaging allows researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the cellular response to drug candidates and identify potential therapeutic targets with higher precision and accuracy. 

Axol Bioscience is recognized as a world leader in the iPSC space, with over a decade of technical experience in the manufacturing and utilization of iPSCs for drug discovery. With a specific interest in neuroscience, the company specializes in the development of in vitro test model systems using neuronal and neuroinflammatory cells and was first to market in the manufacturing of functional iPSC-derived microglia at scale. Axol is using its technology platforms to accelerate and de-risk drug discovery for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, a therapeutic area that currently experiences industry-high clinical trial failure rates of 99.6%. 

“Our collaboration highlights the importance of leveraging innovative technologies and expertise to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the drug discovery process”, says Tim Phillips, Associate Director (Bioscience) at Sygnature Discovery. 

“Axol’s extensive practical experience in handling human iPSCs will accelerate our ambition to offer high-content-based imaging assays to customers in the neuroscience therapeutic area.” 

“As part of building and extending Sygnature’s neuroscience drug discovery platform and future direction, we have an ethos to humanize the drug discovery process where feasible to elevate our level of understanding of how novel small molecule compounds work. This is important in building translational data from reduced/simple cell models to human cells.” 

Ashley Barnes, Chief Scientific Officer at Axol Bioscience, says “Sygnature is renowned for its quality in vitro screening cascades, and we are delighted to collaborate with the company to see human iPSCs used at scale. Supplying the Biopharma community with high-quality human iPSCs will significantly enhance drug discovery pathways and reduce risk in this challenging space. Hopefully, that translates to better therapies to patients living with the conditions.” 

Both parties plan to share their development findings and successes at academic conferences in 2024. 



 About Sygnature Discovery 

Synature Discovery is a world-leading integrated drug discovery Contract Research Organisation based in the UK and Canada with headquarters in Nottingham (UK). Additional sites are located in Alderley Park, Macclesfield, Glasgow, Montreal, and Quebec City. Its team of over 1,000 employees, which includes 900 scientists, partners with global pharma, biotech, and NFP organizations. Since 2004, Sygnature Discovery has delivered over 40 novel pre-clinical and 22 clinical compounds, with its scientists named on over 170 patents. Therapeutic areas of expertise include oncology, inflammation and immunology, neuroscience, metabolic diseases, infectious diseases, fibrotic diseases, and more. 

For further information, visit 


About Axol Bioscience Ltd 

Axol Bioscience use iPSCs to build more relevant models of human disease, to expand understanding and de-risk drug development. Axol Bioscience supports researchers and the biopharma industry with human iPSCs (axoLinesTM), iPSC-derived cells (axoCellsTM) and custom services (axoServicesTM). Axol products are manufactured under stringent ISO 9001 quality measures with robust scientific expertise and functional data. 

For further information, visit 

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Meet members of Sygnature Discovery’s neuroscience team at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) at Booth 932 on November 11-12.

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