Fortis: A New Rapid Screening Assay for Cognitive Enhancement Compounds


The National Institute for Biotechnology
in the Negev Ltd.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev


Cognitive impairment (CI) is highly prevalent worldwide but despite the severity of this problem, there is still no appropriate solution available. The standard approach to develop therapies for CI is based upon the notion that understanding the underlying mechanisms and the precise molecular events involved in this disorder will lead to the development of targeted treatments. Whereas this approach may well be valuable in the long run, its main disadvantage is that CI has many genetic and environmental etiologies. Therefore, developing targeted treatment for each of the multiple causes of this condition is likely to be an extremely difficult task. Consequently, in-spite of the strong unmet need for efficient new therapies to combat cognitive impairment, to date no screening assay has been developed to identify new potential drugs. This may explain the relatively slow advance in the area of cognitive enhancement drug discovery, as compared to cancer research, for example, which benefits from a variety of screening methods and systematic on-going screenings. Nevertheless, there is evidence that strengthening the connectivity among neurons in an activity dependent manner could serve as an efficient approach to enhance cognitive function.


The Technology

Basing on the strong link between synaptic function and cognitive performance, we have developed a new screening assay to detect molecules capable of improving synaptic function using a regular 96-well plate reader. The hit compounds yielded by this assay (i.e. screening and follow-up bioassay validation of the isolated hits using electrophysiology and behavioral tests) represent strong candidates as future cognitive enhancers. The proposed screening method is flexible, fast and cost-effective, and it is expected to yield high-content lead series with strong prospects of clinical success.



  • While traditional approach is based on Mechanism-related therapies, using Fortis, disease mechanism is irrelevant.
  • Using Fortis doesn’t require specific expertise or specialized equipment.
  • While traditional approach requires time-consuming pharmacological testing, Fortis technology uses a fast HTS scoring.


Patent Status

Know-how based technology. IP will be filed on the new generated compounds.


Principal Investigator

Dr. Shira Knafo, NIBN and the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.