Potential in Stem Cells
Improving the workflow of high-throughput, high-content screening in stem cells—from image acquisition to data analysis—is a key area of technology development at Molecular Devices. Evan Cromwell, Ph.D., director of research, describes the use of stem cells as one promising solution to the demand for more biologically relevant assay systems in drug discovery.
Stem cells can be readily grown in culture and expanded to produce ample quantities of cells for screening applications, and they can be induced to differentiate into various cell types of interest.
To facilitate the development of new stem cell lines for screening of compound libraries for drug efficacy and toxicity early in drug discovery, and to advance their use for therapeutic purposes, an automated solution is needed to monitor stem cell expansion and differentiation and cell-purification processes,” says Dr. Cromwell.
The main technology challenges at present are on the software side, he adds, and the need for integrated software tools to optimize workflows and data management and to facilitate the extraction of useful biological information from the large volumes of metadata generated. These tool sets need to be flexible enough to allow users to optimize them for a particular application, notes Dr. Cromwell.
Molecular Devices’ most recent generation of MetaMorph® microscopy automation and image-analysis software, MetaMorph NX, is a “much more intuitive interface,” Dr. Cromwell says. The new user-centered interface streamlines the workflow by integrating hardware setup and providing synchronized views of imaging data. The Dataset View feature keeps all of the images and data that belong to a particular dataset together in one workspace and displays the images in a grid with a user-specified layout. Acquisition parameters are stored with each image.