Yokogawa Electric Corporation announces that it has entered into a partnership agreement with InSphero AG, a pioneer in the development of 3D in vitro technologies for drug discovery and safety. The two companies aim to establish and advance methods for the use of high-content analysis* 2 (HCA) in drug discovery and safety assessment. They will jointly promote and support the use of high-value-added HCA solutions in drug discovery research that involves the use of 3D in vitro models*1.

Through its 3D InSight discovery and safety platforms, InSphero provides robust, physiologically optimized 3D in vitro solutions to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The company’s discovery and safety platforms have been adopted by major pharmaceutical companies around the world to inform decisions earlier in the drug discovery pipeline and better predict the patient response to new drugs and therapeutics. The scalable Akura technology underlying these platforms includes 96 and 384-well plate formats and an organ-on-a-chip system for integrating 3D spheroid models in multi-tissue and organ networks on a multichannel bio-functional chip. Precisely engineered for cell imaging and automated environments, InSphero platforms are suitable for a wide range of applications, from HCA to the investigation of complex interactions between spheroid tissue models.
Yokogawa’s CellVoyager high-throughput screening system series is equipped with the company’s CSU confocal scanner unit, which scans cells at high speed, enabling high resolution 3D imaging for the screening of candidate compounds. Furthermore, the deep learning function of the CellPathfinder high-content analysis software, enables complex image analysis techniques such as phenotypic analysis*3. Together, InSphero and Yokogawa will advance the use of HCA technologies and methodologies and thereby address the growing demand for these solutions in applications such as drug discovery. By using this technology to extract useful pharmacological information and elucidate the pathophysiology of diseases in complex multicellular 3D spheroid models, the two companies will contribute to the development of new drugs and advance human health.
As part of this partnership agreement, InSphero has begun using Yokogawa’s CQ1 confocal quantitative image cytometer in its ongoing drug discovery and safety programs. In the life science journal SLAS Discovery, the two companies have jointly published an article*4 about an optimal HCA method using 3D multicellular spheroid models for drug discovery. InSphero and Yokogawa will be able to make use of deep learning and other HCA capabilities to further study and develop new high-content imaging and analysis solutions for 3D in vitro models.
“Over the past few years, 3D in vitro models have clearly become the gold standard for drug discovery applications,” says InSphero CEO and Co-Founder Jan Lichtenberg, PhD. “Our portfolio of 3D InSight discovery and safety platforms provide several key advantages over 2D and animal models for research teams seeking more human cell-based models. We found the perfect HCA partner in Yokogawa to help us optimize our use of 3D imaging instrumentation and software—and leverage their exceptional suite of tools for high quality 3D imaging for live cell analysis.”
Hiroshi Nakao, a Yokogawa vice president and head of the company’s Life Innovation Business Headquarters, says, “As one of our three long-term sustainability targets for the year 2050, we are working to ensure the well-being of all people. Through this partnership, we will be able to provide seamless services ranging from the construction of high-quality 3D in vitro models to complex analyses, thereby contributing to the improvement of screening technologies and the speed of drug discovery.”
1. Three-dimensional culture model for in vitro studies (3D in vitro model)
Produced using cultured cells, 3D in vitro models are used in drug discovery to investigate the safety and efficacy of candidate compounds. They can be used to model tumours, liver fibrosis, and the like. 
2. High-content analysis (HCA)
HCA refers to a series of techniques that automatically and rapidly capture and analyze large amounts of images using microscope-based imaging systems.
3. Phenotypic analysis
An analytical method for quantifying phenotypic changes using multiple parameters. It can be used to analyze the protein localization and morphological changes in cells and thereby determine whether a drug compound has the desired effects.
4. Wardwell-Swanson, J., Suzuki, M., et al. A Framework for Optimizing High-Content Imaging of 3D Models for Drug Discovery, SLAS Discovery, June 2, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1177/2472555220929291