The cell biology department of the ADSI develops cell-based test systems (assays) for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. Depending on the questions, either simple 2D or complex 3D cell cultures are employed. The portfolio ranges from simple assays to evaluate the toxicity of compounds to assays for high content screening, which involve the analysis and evaluation of multiple parameters.
The ADSI develops cellular test systems to mimic the in vivo conditions of tissues and organs (skin, lung, intestine, liver, tumor, etc.) in the human body. These test systems are designed to screen libraries of natural products like plant extracts, cosmetic formulations or drug candidates for their effectiveness and toxicity. The developed cell cultures are suitable to investigate the activity of substances or extracts on individual cells or entire cell populations and provide information about the effects on the communication from cell to cell. Depending on the application, particular types of human cells are selected. The appropriate culture conditions must be optimized in order to allow the cells to survive in culture and behave like tissue in the human body. Some cell types are kept in aggregates like 3D cultures to promote the formation of natural tissue structures similar to those found in the human body.
For special demand, we are able to create and cultivate miniorgans directly from patient material after surgery, so-called organoids. Organoids maintain the original characteristics of the patient tissue (healthy tissue, tumor, etc.) in culture and are therefore an ideal tool for targeted and personalized screening strategies for drugs, natural substances, etc.
The maintenance and analysis of the established 2D as well as 3D human tissue models can be achieved in a specially developed and fully automated cell culture system. This saves time and money with a large number of samples and guarantees a high degree of reproducibility.
High Content Screening
The High Content Screening carried out in the ADSI is the next step after the usual High Throughput Screening. Test systems for High Content Screening are mainly very complex in their implementation but have the great advantage that plenty of relevant parameters are recorded at the same time, which enables the description of complex biological interactions.
To facilitate the required speed and throughput for High Content Screening, the ADSI has developed a unique fully automated system for carrying out cell-based assays, the so-called Automated Screening Assay Platform (ASAP). Using ASAP, the cell cultures are automatically maintained, treated with test substances and subsequently analyzed by confocal fluorescence microscopy. In addition, hundreds of cytokines and other molecules involved in cell communication can be measured at the same time using multiplexing methods (e.g. Luminex technology, etc.). In this manner, it is possible to measure whether single cells or cell groups are permanently damaged by a test substance or whether their communication with each other is impaired. The aim is to obtain as much information as possible about the effect of tested substances. Data acquired by all these methods allow for a comprehensive analysis and interpretation of complex biological test systems.
Data analysis and interpretation
High content screening generates huge amounts of data which need to be evaluated and interpreted. This requires the use of state-of-the-art bioinformatics methods to interpret the screening results in order to be able to answer the customer’s questions in a clear and meaningful way.