HCA with 3D models

InSphero-Yokogawa partnership will support drug development research

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HCA with 3D models

SCHLIEREN, Switzerland—InSphero AG, which develops 3D in-vitro technologies for drug discovery and safety, has entered into a partnership agreement with Yokogawa Electric Corp. to establish and advance high-content imaging and analysis (HCA) in drug discovery and safety.

The two companies aim to promote and support the use of innovative HCA solutions with physiologically relevant, 3D, in-vitro, cell-based disease models. The partnership will enable InSphero and Yokogawa to advance the use of HCA technology and methodologies to address the growing demand for solutions for drug discovery and disease research.  

“One of our challenges as a biotech pioneer is to identify the right technology partners that help us deliver truly innovative solutions for drug discovery and safety testing,” said InSphero CEO and co-founder Dr. Jan Lichtenberg. “Our scientists and bioengineers set the bar high for Yokogawa. We found the perfect HCA partner in Yokogawa to help us optimize our use of 3D imaging instrumentation and software—and leverage their exceptional suite of tools for high-quality 3D imaging for live cell analysis.”

“Over the past few years, 3D in-vitro models have clearly become the gold standard for drug discovery applications. Our portfolio of 3D InSight discovery and safety platforms provide several key advantages over 2D and animal models for research teams seeking more human cell-based models,” he added.

InSphero specializes in developing and customizing complex, multicellular 3D spheroid models with the physiologically relevant morphological characteristics, cellular complexity and longevity in culture needed to mimic clinical response to drug treatments. The company is the pioneer of industrial-grade, 3D cell-based assay solutions and scaffold-free 3D organ-on-a-chip technology.

Through partnerships, InSphero supports pharmaceutical and biotechnology researchers by accurately rebuilding the human physiology in vitro. Major pharmaceutical companies worldwide use its robust and precisely engineered suite of 3D InSight human tissue platforms to increase efficiency in drug discovery and safety testing. The company specializes in liver toxicology, metabolic diseases, and oncology. The scalable Akura technology underlying the company’s 3D InSight Discovery and Safety Platforms includes 96- and 384-well plate formats and the Akura Flow organ-on-a-chip system to drive efficient innovation throughout all phases of drug development. InSphero’s Akura plate and organ-on-a-chip technology is engineered for imaging and automation across a broad range of experimental formats, from high-content screening to multi-tissue networks.

Yokogawa’s CellVoyager high-throughput screening system series is equipped with the company’s confocal scanner unit. The technology scans cells at high speed, allowing for high-resolution 3D imaging for screening of candidate compounds. In addition, the deep learning function of the CellPathfinder high-content analysis software enables complex image analysis techniques, such as phenotypic analysis.

For numerous research applications, from basic research to drug discovery screening, Yokogawa’s life innovation business provides high-content analysis systems, also known as high-content screening systems. Paired with InSphero’s advanced analysis software, these HCA systems provide high-quality 3D imaging for enhanced live cell analysis, enabling researchers to identify substances such as small molecules, peptides, and RNAi that can alter the phenotype of a cell. High-resolution microscopic images captured with Yokogawa HCA instruments can be used to detect cellular phenotypic changes at a molecular level, making this a powerful tool for studying the effects of physiologically active substances such as siRNA, peptides, and antibodies on cultured cells, tissue samples, and whole organisms.

As Hiroshi Nakao, a Yokogawa vice president and head of the company’s Life Innovation Business Headquarters, explained, “As one of our three long-term sustainability targets, we are working to ensure the well-being of all people. Through this partnership, we will be able to provide seamless services ranging from the construction of high-quality, 3D in-vitro models to complex analyses, thereby contributing to the improvement of screening technologies and the speed of drug discovery.”

As a result of this partnership agreement, InSphero has begun to use Yokogawa’s CQ1 confocal quantitative image cytometer in its research laboratory. The companies have already collaborated on several joint presentations. They also co-authored a publication in the scientific journal SLAS Discovery that presented a framework for optimizing high content imaging of 3D models for drug discovery. InSphero and Yokogawa will use deep learning and other HCA capabilities to further study and develop new high-content imaging and analysis solutions for 3D in-vitro models.

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