Bram Herpers, OcellO B.V., Leiden, The Netherlands

OcellO develops and uses clinically relevant in vitro human tissue models for screening and profiling of small molecules and biologics. Tissues cultured in a natural 3D extracellular matrix environment show improved phenotype, function and gene expression profiles compared to 2D monolayer-cultures or spheroids grown in suspension and therefore represent better models for evaluating the effects of new drugs. The analysis of these tissue models, which use cell lines and patient-derived material, is enabled by ultra-high content 3D image analysis, feature extraction and machine learning methods.

As well as providing more sensitive measurements of cell growth and viability compared to biochemical assays, phenotypic profiling of tissues allows the measurement of more complex or subtle biology, such as differentiation, invasion and planar polarity. Analyzing a broad spectrum of phenotypic measurements also enables activity of different signaling pathways to be discriminated and toxic effects to be flagged allowing a better ranking of therapeutic molecules.

This lecture will give an overview of OcellO’s 3D screening methodology, the use of patient derived tissues and the application to drug discovery for various cancer types.