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High Content Screening for in vitro toxicity testing

20 June 2011  •  Author(s): Willem G.E.J. Schoonen, Walter M.A. Westerink, Femke M. van de Water and G. Jean Horbach, Department of Toxicology & Drug Disposition, Merck Sharp & Dohme

The application of High Content Screening for in vitro toxicity testing is a relatively new approach in the preclinical research phase of drug development. A battery of tests have been developed for screening on general parameters such as cytotoxicity, while more dedicated assays are available with respect to the identification of genotoxicity, phospholipidosis, steatosis and cholestasis. All these tests are very beneficial within the pharmaceutical industry for the selection of appropriate candidates for drug development as well as for reduction of the attrition rate.

High content screening (HCS) is quickly growing in popularity within the field of in vitro toxicity testing. The maturity of HCS equipment and software has made HCS accessible for many technicians and scientists working in the area of cellular and molecular biology. Although this technique was introduced in the mid 1990’s, the simplification in the use of the software programs, the growth in computer storage capacities as well as the improved qualities of resolution of the digital microscopic cameras has largely increased the accessibility of this equipment. At the start of HCS technology, many scientists were sceptical about this technique as image-based mathematical algorithms had to be written for the analysis.

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