Speeding up Cell Imaging

Courtesy of Q3DM Drug discovery companies frequently use high-throughput cell imaging systems to increase the efficiency of secondary screening of drug candidates, and the number of available systems has grown in recent months to meet this demand. Among the competitors is San Diego-based Q3DM's EIDAQ 100 system, the product of a combination of patented technologies that, according to the company, improve throughput and image fidelity over conventional automated cell-imaging systems. The EIDA

Sep 8, 2003
Aileen Constans
Courtesy of Q3DM

Drug discovery companies frequently use high-throughput cell imaging systems to increase the efficiency of secondary screening of drug candidates, and the number of available systems has grown in recent months to meet this demand. Among the competitors is San Diego-based Q3DM's EIDAQ 100 system, the product of a combination of patented technologies that, according to the company, improve throughput and image fidelity over conventional automated cell-imaging systems.

The EIDAQ 100 can collect up to 10,000 images per hour, placing it within the top three automated cell imaging systems in terms of speed, says Mike Honeysett, vice president, sales and marketing. "There are a lot of good systems out there that are very fast, but fidelity of the images, coupled with the analytical software tools, is where we truly shine." That, Honeysett says, is because the EIDAQ 100 employs a patented autofocusing technology that enables the reliable and routine use of microscope objectives with high numerical apertures (NA). Whereas competing systems often operate at 20X magnification, 0.45 NA, the EIDAQ 100 routinely operates at 40X magnification, 0.95 NA, providing four times greater resolution.

In addition, many competing systems gain speed by focusing on the bottom of each plate and setting an offset, hoping to catch cells in a field of view. "We focus directly on cells within a well at a precision better than 100 nm, which provides exceptionally sharp images," explains Honeysett. Further, the system's patented light source is more stable than other illumination sources used by fluorescent microscopy systems. "There's a three-log improvement in stability with our light source versus noise that you find in unstabilized light sources," he says, improving fluorescent quantification and measurement accuracy.

Honeysett adds that EIDAQ 100 includes user-friendly software that features 70 different metrics for interrogating a given cell population, allowing multiple questions to be asked about drug-cell interactions simultaneously. Much of the instrument's appeal lies in its ease of use for scientists who have minimal imaging expertise, says Mark Mercola of the Burnham Institute, La Jolla, Calif., who tested the system and has ordered one for his lab. Mercola, who described the EIDAQ 100 as "versatile" and "approachable," says it compares favorably to other systems on the market in terms of speed and cost.

--Aileen Constans


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