The development and use of general anesthetics is a key aspect of modern medicine. However, the current reliance on lipid-soluble general anesthetics presents issues, particularly for elderly patients who often have increased adipose tissue and decreased body water. This demographic can respond poorly to lipid-soluble anesthetics, resulting in prolonged half-life and increased susceptibility to issues such as delirium and cognitive decline during postoperative recovery. There's therefore a growing trend towards and need for water-soluble anesthetics. Despite the clear advantages of water-soluble anesthetics, their development has been held back due to a lack of effective and affordable screening strategies. Current screening methods are either in the process of being developed or lack the ability to exhibit the systemic neurophysiological impacts of anesthetic candidates, which is key to understanding their overall effectiveness and potential side effects.



Northeastern researchers have invented a novel assay technology developed for screening suitable candidate molecules for water-soluble anesthetics. This high-throughput test evaluates the neurophysiological effects of potential anesthetic compounds, especially at a systems level. The technology provides substantial cost savings as its setup expenses are only a fraction of the costs for establishing traditional physiological setups. Furthermore, it can produce high-quality results much quicker than traditional assays based on in vivo or in vitro physiological recording. This technology stands out due to its focus on water-soluble anesthetic development that hold several advantages over lipid-soluble anesthetics, including safer use for elderly patients who may have increased sensitivity to commonly used lipid-soluble anesthetics such as propofol. The assay fills a crucial gap in this research field by efficiently and affordably examining the neurophysiological impacts of new anesthetic compounds.



Enables development of safer anesthetics for vulnerable populations like elderly patients

  • Significantly reduces the cost for setting up screening assays
  • Accelerates the process of screening candidate molecules
  • Provides a more comprehensive picture of a compound's neurophysiological effects
  • Fills a crucial gap in the research and development of water-soluble anesthetics



  • Pharmaceutical research and development for creating better, safer general anesthetics
  • Medical laboratories conducting anesthetic research and clinical trials
  • Drug delivery companies focusing on new medication formulations
  • Healthcare facilities targeting safer anesthesia for elderly patients
  • Educational institutions carrying out research in anesthetic pharmacology


Seeking licensee/industry partner/funding


Patent Status: 

Provisional Patent submitted

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Vaibhav Saini
Senior Manager Commercialization
Northeastern University
Gunther Zupanc
David Lehotzky
Drug Discovery & Development
High Throughput Screening