High Content Analysis of Rapid Kinetic Processes in Heterogeneous Stem Cell Cultures
Preliminary experiments obtained using the Kinetic Image Cytometer - KIC - demonstrate the feasibility of utilizing stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes for high content screening applications.
The preferable way to study biological systems for biotechnology and pharmaceutical applications is to use the most natural conditions possible, and that includes tests done in whole cells. A wide range of cell types can be grown in culture and studied for their role in development, disease, and drug sensitivity. For this reason, live-cell-based assays are considered the best for drug discovery applications. Furthermore, since it is usually desired to obtain information of the most relevance to medical applications, it is best to use cells of human origin, which represent the relevant tissue or organ of interest.
Today the majority of compound screening campaigns performed by the biopharmaceutical industry rely on cell-based assays. Cell-based assays enable functional characterization of target activation in a more relevant and informative setting than biochemical assays.
Cell-image based assays, often referred to as high content analysis (HCA) assays, can provide a wealth of information relevant to regulatory and biochemical pathways within the natural cellular environment, as opposed to the single-end point data typically obtained from assays based upon cell extracts, purified enzymes, or recombinant proteins. Live cells are the best model for a range of topics, including studying a drug’s mechanism of action, tracking biochemical pathways, and many other areas of study.
Fluorescent-based cellular assays are driving this concept forward due to their high sensitivity, flexibility and ease of use. HCA optical assays are performed routinely throughout early drug discovery from target identification, validation to libraries screening, and lead identification and optimization. Optical-based assays are widely used for safety and toxicology studies as well. Advances in modern optical imaging technologies provide highly accurate models of complex biological states in formats compatible with industrialized drug screening.
Stem cells offer an exciting new branch of therapy to treat a variety of conditions and diseases and hold the promise for treatment of a wide variety of afflictions including Parkinson's disease, ischemic heart disease, diabetes, and degenerative joint diseases. There are two main types of cells used in stem cell therapy, adult stem cells and embryonic stem (ES) cells. In stem cell research, monitoring of the degree of differentiation, maturation and survival is important for determining their efficacy as future treatment, and stem cell cultures are typically heterogeneous with respect to these characteristics. A common and major challenge of stem cell-based research is directing the cells to establish the physiological structure and function of the desired target tissue.