What is Cell Painting
Cell Painting (CP) is a high-content, image-based morphological profiling assay. For the assay, six fluorescent dyes are used, revealing eight cellular components or organelles. Combined with sophisticated image analysis tools, this approach allows the user to obtain detailed cellular profiles, consisting of hundreds or even thousands of morphological features: measures of intensity, size, shape, spatial relationships, etcetera. The amount of detail in these morphological profiles makes this assay sensitive to subtle cellular changes, and therefore a valuable tool to assess cellular responses to drugs or genetic perturbations.
The Joint Undertaking in Morphological Profiling (JUMP) Cell Painting (CP) consortium, spearheaded by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, aims to create an unprecedented public Cell Painting data set. For this purpose, they developed a standardized Cell Painting protocol, which is currently being used to obtain the phenotypic profiles of over one billion cells responding to over 140.000 small molecules and genetic perturbations. The database is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
With their efforts, the consortium aims to create a new data-driven approach for drug discovery, relieving a major bottleneck in the pharma pipeline; to help determine a potential therapeutics’ mode of action prior to clinical studies. Their ultimate goal is to "make cell images as computable as genomes and transcriptomes".