Drug Discovery Support Assay

Live cell assay for drug candidate compounds

With the development of recent culture technology, it is possible to evaluate the effect or toxicity of a drug candidate compound in vitro using cells separated from human tissues or organs and cells differentiated from human pluripotent stem cells. It is possible that we will be able to advance conventional compound screening more efficiently.

From pluripotent stem cells such as iPS cells and ES cells to differentiated cells such as human nerve cells and cardiomyocytes which are difficult to use for drug discovery assay by conventional methods, the types of cells that can be used for screening are also expanding.
In particular, iPS cells produced from patients with rare diseases can produce cells with characteristics of disease, so there is a possibility that drug discovery for rare diseases can change dramatically using those cells.

Also, using Nikon's live cell imaging devices (such as BioStation CT) and original image analysis techniques enables observation and analysis of cell characteristics in real time. For example, extended observation of status and characteristics changes of a cell under culturing in real time is possible while evaluating drug efficacy/toxicity noninvasively. Observing and evaluating noninvasively eliminates the processes of fixing cells, experimentation, observation and analysis which usually require assay, and drastically reduces the time required.

Conventional method

Nikon's new approach

Support strategies for an evaluation system using cells
(Development of analysis method/Contract analysis)

1. Development of analysis method

Using Nikon's proprietary optical technology and image analysis technology, we support the development of a drug efficacy/toxicity evaluation system based on images specialized for the user's target cells through consultation with cell culture experts. This is a service for customers who want a unique living cell based and live cell imaging drug discovery system using cell lines derived from patients with special diseases or transgenic cells.
This service includes the following contents.

Provided service

  • Evaluation and proposal of optimum solutions based on Nikon's analysis experience
  • Selection and customization of observation equipment suitable for analysis
  • Proposal of cell image acquisition method suitable for your analysis
  • Customizing image analysis software
  • Introduction and operation support of analysis method

2. Contract analysis

To evaluate the efficacy/toxicity of test compounds, we analyze cell characteristics/morphology using Nikon's proprietary contents live cell assay system. For analysis, Nikon's cell observation device and image analysis application are used as a platform, but the parameters are optimized based on the characteristics of the user cell. Supports both onsite analysis at a user's facility and offsite analysis at Nikon's facilities.

Contents of analysis

  • Single cell tracking
  • Colony tracking
  • Differentiation process classification
  • Sequential Cell Coverage Area ratio
  • Sequential Cell Density Distribution
  • Survival assay
  • Cell counting
  • Neurite length


Introducing applications to measure numbers of human-derived cells, density and shapes, and application packages that combine several applications.