The Beautiful Cell: High-Content Screening in Drug Discovery

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2010 Sep;398(1):219-26. doi: 10.1007/s00216-010-3788-3. Epub 2010 Jun 25.


The term "high-content screening" has become synonymous with imaging screens using automated microscopes and automated image analysis. The term was coined a little over 10 years ago. Since then the technology has evolved considerably and has established itself firmly in the drug discovery and development industry. Both the instruments and the software controlling the instruments and analyzing the data have come to maturity, so the full benefits of high-content screening can now be realized. Those benefits are the capability of carrying out phenotypic multiparametric cellular assays in an unbiased, fully automated, and quantitative fashion. Automated microscopes and automated image analysis are being applied at all stages of the drug discovery and development pipeline. All major pharmaceutical companies have adopted the technology and it is in the process of being embraced broadly by the academic community. This review aims at describing the current capabilities and limits of the technology as well as highlighting necessary developments that are required to exploit fully the potential of high-content screening and analysis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Discovery / instrumentation
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / instrumentation
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods*
  • Humans
  • Software