High-content, imaging-based screens now routinely generate data on a scale that precludes manual verification and interrogation. Software applying machine learning has become an essential tool to automate analysis, but these methods require annotated examples to learn from. Efficiently exploring large datasets to find relevant examples remains a challenging bottleneck. Here, we present Advanced Cell Classifier (ACC), a graphical software package for phenotypic analysis that addresses these difficulties. ACC applies machine-learning and image-analysis methods to high-content data generated by large-scale, cell-based experiments. It features methods to mine microscopic image data, discover new phenotypes, and improve recognition performance. We demonstrate that these features substantially expedite the training process, successfully uncover rare phenotypes, and improve the accuracy of the analysis. ACC is extensively documented, designed to be user-friendly for researchers without machine-learning expertise, and distributed as a free open-source tool at www.cellclassifier.org.
Keywords: cell classification; fluorescence microscopy; high-content screening; image processing; machine learning; multi-parametric analysis; oncology; open-source software; phenotypic discovery; single-cell analysis.
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