High-Content Imaging Laboratories
The high-content imaging (HCI) laboratory provides expert information and guidance, and performs multiple imaging functions in a timely agreed-upon manner with key investigators.
“As an exclusive HCI laboratory, we perform the assay development, which may mean cloning and expression of cell lines specific for the project, optimize the cellular and manual or robotic operational aspects of the assay, execute the campaign, design and perform the image analysis, as well as the statistical and computational solutions for advancing the drug discovery efforts,” explained Ann F. Hoffman, principal scientist, Roche discovery technologies, and group leader, high content imaging, Hoffmann-La Roche.
For example, in analyzing for cellular cytotoxicity, a large net of imaging assays is cast to capture possible liabilities and then suggest additional in-depth studies that can be performed. With limited compound availabilities, the use of all reagents is then resourcefully relegated over a number of queries.
The results of all the data from the therapeutic platform panels, upon completion, are able to be put in perspective with respect to “gold standards,” known reference compounds, and historical data. This focused approach impacts the direction of compound progression and may lead to research findings not necessarily apparent.
As a better understanding of single cells and populations grows, such as stem and tumor cell differentiation and growth development, a way to link the results of HCI knowledge with the complicated and redundant signaling pathways and cellular processes will be required.
In the future, HCI laboratories will need to embrace and participate in the big data world that translational medicine and bioinformatics is establishing. The goal is to incorporate experimental research, preclinical HCI data, omics data, and next-generation-sequencing data for predictive analytical modeling that enables the forecasting of hypotheses and better clinical outcomes in the early stages of drug development.