Stem Cell Research

Automate stem cell imaging and analysis workflow of complex assays and 3D induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) -derived cell models

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Stem Cell Research

Stem cells provide researchers with new opportunities to study targets and pathways that are more relevant to disease processes. They offer a more realistic model to identify and confirm new drug targets and generate pharmacology and toxicology data earlier, with stronger translation to the clinical setting. Additionally, the application of stem cells in drug development creates a new path to personalized medicine, while at the same time reducing, or even potentially replacing, animal testing.

Induced pluripotent stem cell-derived (iPSC-derived) cells enable researchers to study primary cells without the limitations traditionally encountered in obtaining such cells.

Benefits of stem cell research

The biopharma industry is continuing to adapt more cell-based assays for primary and secondary screening because of higher biological relevance and increased value of information. As part of this evolution, there is a desire to move from immortalized, stable cell lines to primary cells and stem cells. Stem cells offer the advantages of providing better clinical relevance of information compared to cell lines, being available in larger quantities, and having higher assay reproducibility than primary cells. Therefore, there is a great interest in automated stem cell assays to use as screening tools in early drug development, and to evaluate potential toxic effects of new compounds.

The workflows for assays involving stem cells are similar to other cell-based assays, but there are critical differences. Differentiation is often involved in stem cell assays because of the need to start with undifferentiated cells, or because the assay is studying the differentiation process. Monitoring the type and number of cells is often important when more than one lineage is present, or when both mature and undifferentiated cells are present. Accordingly, the data analysis and visualization requirements become more complex as multiple readouts from multiple cell types are required.

Stem cell imaging – High-content screening techniques and tools

Complex assays and 3D iPSC-derived cell models better represent tissue biology and cell interactions, making them more relevant for many toxicity and drug screening assays. As a result, the development of higher throughput quantitative assays using 3D cultures is an active area of investigation. Complicated 3D image acquisition and analysis workflows make it difficult to scale these assays for screening.

The ImageXpress® Micro High-Content Imaging Systems and MetaXpress® 3D Analysis Module allow us to implement a simpler workflow to quantify and visualize 3D structures.

Stem cell imaging

Hepatotoxicity assay using 3D spheroid liver micro tissues derived from iCell Hepatocytes.

(A) iCell Hepatocytes were grown in 2D format for seven days prior to using them to prepare 3D cultures. Following spheroid formation, the liver micro tissues were treated with compounds for 72 hours, then stained for two hours and imaged. Z-planes were acquired using the ImageXpress Micro Confocal system.

(B) The acquired z-plane images were used to generate sets of 2D and 3D image segmentation, which were analyzed to quantify key phenotypic features of the 3D cultures.

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Stem cell science insights and breakthroughs presented at #ISSCR2021

This year's ISSCR Annual Meeting brought leaders together from across the globe to discuss new technologies, share research insights, and explore the newest breakthroughs in stem cell science and regenerative medicine. With its impressive turnout, attendees learned how to get significant data from complex biological systems to reduce lab costs and push the boundaries of their research.

If you didn't get a chance to attend our Innovation Showcase and poster presentations during the show—we've got you covered. We've gathered all of our abstracts and poster sessions in a handy, one-stop-shop just for you.

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Stem cell science insights

Stem cell applications and the tools to transform your data into unique biological insights

The stem cell workflow demands a variety of complex assay types that monitor all phases from initial growth and expansion to differentiation, to quality control, and finally predictive assays for therapeutic research and drug discovery. Our suite of hardware and software solutions enable automated analysis of stem cells for many of the steps in the workflow. We are continuing to develop new techniques to help further condense and automate the workflow for stem cell assays.

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