GEN recently sat down with thought leaders in the cellular imaging and analysis space to talk about current and emerging trends in the field. The three experts, all intimately familiar with imaging applications, talked about the use of high-content screening in industry and academia, overcoming bottlenecks, reagent gaps, and live-cell vs. fixed imaging.
James G. Evans, Ph.D., from Anon Consulting; Kelvin Lam, Ph.D., director of high-throughput screening at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute; and Achim von Leoprechting, Ph.D., vp and GM, cellular imaging and analysis solutions at PerkinElmer, were the panelists.
GEN: How extensively is high-content imaging being used in drug discovery and academia?
Evans: High-content screening (HCS) was developed in drug discovery. Six years ago, MIT and the Whitehead Institute partnered with Cellomics to bring high-content screening into an academic environment, particularly for systems biology applications. Right now, the two areas are pretty even. There’s a lot of high-content screening being done in both drug discovery and academia. RNAi screening is probably the predominant academic application, particularly at places like the Broad Institute.
Lam: High-content screening has traditionally been used as a secondary screen. However, it is moving toward the primary screening area due to advances in data workflow and data management.
von Leoprechting: Traditionally, high-content screening was used in drug discovery, mainly in secondary screening or for tox applications where it offered a particular benefit over existing methods. From there, academic screening centers started to use HCS with phenotypic assays for mechanistic research and drug screening. Today HCS has become a well-established tool for both cell-based drug discovery and academic research. At this time, the technology advancement is clearly led by academia and many new developments like higher-throughput technologies, better spectral-resolution techniques, improved image-analysis tools and reagents, are being developed in academia.