It is the ability to quantify the biology of an assay, and therefore provide meaningful biological results, that dictates the usefulness and success of an HCS assay. Performing those steps in as efficient a manner as possible is what we define as rapid assay development (RAD).
The Thermo Scientific modular Cellomics® HCS platform with ArrayScan® HCS reader can eliminate assay development and optimization bottlenecks via the intelligent acQuisition™ (iQ) approach, which couples adaptive, intelligent image-acquisition software (Scan) with real-time image analysis from the BioApplication Suite and provides an iterative data-driven approach to assay development and optimization that delivers a RAD approach to HCS.
Using the Thermo Scientific iQ approach, Scan software allows the data-driven tuning of the assay through repetitive cycles of image acquisition, real-time image analysis, data review, and imaging parameter optimization to achieve the desired assay window. Once an assay window is achieved on one or two images, the system is then set up to acquire and analyze a larger training set to check the robustness and biological relevance of the assay.
Visualization of data and image re-analysis can be scaled beyond the instrument through software running on a desktop PC if required. In this way, researchers can develop and further tune assays off-line from the instrument. The system allows the scientist to visualize and identify cell variability and compensate for this within data analysis, i.e., with the exclusion of those cells from selected data sets.
It also allows the user to distinguish between subpopulations of varying activity. Once the criteria for a robust assay are established, the system can be set up to ensure the acquisition and selection of the correct number of targeted cells for the biology in question, irrelevant of plating density and compound effects, and then deliver the images and data for decision making.
As many scientists incorporate numerous assay types into their screening workflow, it is advantageous to have an assay platform that is flexible enough to accommodate them all. Thus, a system that allows the measurement and quantification of a plethora of cellular events such as changes in cell morphology, cell viability, mitosis, apoptosis, and cell-signaling pathways is beneficial.
The Thermo Scientific Cellomics BioApplications software, which is integrated into HCS platform, is a series of image-analysis software algorithms developed and validated for the quantitative measurements of almost any biology—the relevant program can be selected and run depending on the assay of interest.