AsianScientist (Feb. 3, 2016) – Researchers in Singapore have developed a highly efficient and accurate cellular imaging platform for predicting the toxicity of chemical compounds to the kidney.
The work, by researchers from the Agency for Science Technology and Research’s Bioinformatics Institute (BII) and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), was published in Archives of Toxicology.
Chemical compounds from medicine, food or even the environment could injure the kidney and impair its function of eliminating waste from the body. They are collectively referred to as being nephrotoxic.
Currently, there is no accurate method for screening large numbers of potentially nephrotoxic compounds with diverse chemical structures. Furthermore, about 20 percent of hospital- or community-acquired cases of acute kidney injury can be attributed to nephrotoxic drugs.
Existing approaches for predicting the toxicity of chemical compounds include animal testing, which involves high costs, ethical issues and poor prediction of human toxicity due to inter-species differences. Other methods of nephrotoxicity screening are also slow, laborious and costly, or may require prior knowledge of the compounds’ chemical structures or mechanisms.
“By automatically analyzing more than 25,000 microscopy images of cells treated with different compounds, we were able to identify phenotypic signatures of kidney cells that can be used to predict the in vivo toxicity of compounds with diverse structures and mechanisms, with a validated accuracy of 80–90 percent,” said co-author and principal investigator from BII, Dr. Loo Lit-Hsin.
In this study, more than two million individual cells were screened for their reactions to over 40 different chemical compounds, including industrial chemicals, antibiotics, antivirals, chemotherapy drugs and agricultural chemicals. The analysis was performed using an automated image analysis software called cellXpress that Loo and his team developed.
“This novel software platform reduces the reliance on existing laborious and time-consuming methods currently available for testing of nephrotoxic compounds, enabling much faster predictions,” said Dr. Daniele Zink, co-author, team leader and principal research scientist from IBN.
Source: Agency for Science Technology and Research; Photo: Shutterstock.
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