Cell-Based Assays

Limited target-based screening in a simple cell-based assay that had little physiological relevance, has evolved to multicellular cell-based functional and biochemical assays in disease-relevant platforms for drug discovery. To better understand the complex interplay of networks and pathways within these cellular processes, we’ve developed cell-based assays for every stage of drug development. With access to a range of cell types, using both established and innovative technologies, assays can be developed to best mimic your disease state leading to improved translational success.

Mimicking the Cellular Environment

Human Primary Cells – Developing in vitro assays using disease-relevant cells can provide the earliest prediction of how a compound will translate to clinic. We have access to human blood and tissue from healthy donors and donors with defined disease characteristics from over 25 primary cell types and more than 20 disease indications for therapeutic areas such as oncology, neuroscience, and immunology.


Complex TME complementary cell-based assays for oncology drug development.

Leverage complementary cell-based assays for the tumor microenvironment.

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Stem Cells When disease-relevant human cells are not accessible, induced pluripotent cells (iPSC) can be used to generate a large number of cells with varied tissue types. In partnership with Bit Bio, we've acquired new reprogramming technology and have extensive experience in stem cell culturing and differntiation. We have access to robust assay quality for your cell-based assays.


Preclinical application of iPSCs represents great promise in drug development.

Tap into the full potential of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC).

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CRISPR Engineered Cells – The power of CRISPR technology is its ability to precisely create the target of interest when developing cell-based assays for more predictive in vitro models. CRISPR is a fast, accurate, and cost-effective way to perform genomic manipulations that support the development of assays to identify new disease targets and test therapeutic efficacy.

Simple Cell-Based Assay, Co-Cultures, or 3D?

In vitro assays can provide data for those “go” or “no-go” decisions. Human primary in vitro studies using single cells, multicellular, co-culture, and 3D spheroid platforms are used to monitor cell viability, cell proliferation, cell exhaustion, cell translocation, cytokine response, biochemical function, and mechanism of action (MOA), as well as other phenotypic changes.


Human tumor cell lines developed from primary tumor material or patient-derived xenografts (PDX) for oncology research.

In vitro patient-derived xenograft (PDX model) 2D tumor panel screens.

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Choosing the Right Platform

It is impossible to pick a single technique, as each candidate is not only different in concept but often also in the tools that are available to test your hypothesis. Understanding this complex biology requires the use of multiple cell-based technologies, from monitoring cell viability via cell proliferation assays to phenotypic screening via high-content analysis. We offer customized assay development and screening with readouts including high-content analysis and multiparameter detection (HT-FACS, Luminex, and Meso Scale Discovery). By using quality systems throughout the process – from monitoring cell viability to data analysis – we can produce data you can trust.

Where Are You in the Drug Development Pipeline?

From early discovery through translation to in vivo pharmacology, the right combination of cell-based assays can offer predictive data as you move through the drug development pathway.

Hit Finding Predictive cell-based assays designed to identify a compound with confirmed activity against a biological target are dependent on comprehensive screening libraries, knowledge of complex biology, and innovative screening platforms.

Target Validation – Don’t be led down the wrong path following off-target effects, the leading cause of clinical failures. Validate your target with disease-relevant in vitro assays that confirm cellular activity.

Lead Optimization Cycle your compound through a series of complementary cell-based assays to maximize potency and selectivity while minimizing toxicity.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Biology Cell-Based Assays

  • What is the advantage of a cell-based assay for drug discovery?

    Cell-based assays assess the efficacy of compounds in a cellular environment, which is crucial to understanding compound behaviors in a biological system and align readouts with a translatable biomarker. Without this, it becomes very challenging to determine the in vitro to in vivo correlation for efficacious dose predictions.

  • What types of cell-based assays are best for phenotypic screening?

    There is no single technique as each candidate and disease state is unique. Cell-based assays range from simple cell proliferation and cell viability assays to more complex 2D and 3D multicellular assays such high content imaging. Cell-based in vitro assays that best mimic the complexity of a biological environment are more predictive of how a compound will respond in vivo.

  • What is the most appropriate cell type to use?

    The main challenges of running in vitro assays are to identify and access the most appropriate cell type for the study. Using cells derived from tissue, blood, or differentiated stem cells present the required and target expression needed to resemble the in vivo system to ultimately translate to the clinic.