July 10, 2020

Broad Institute launches academic-industry cell imaging consortium to speed drug discovery and development

The Imaging Platform at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, together with industry and non-profit partners, has launched a new collaboration to create a massive cell-imaging dataset, displaying more than 1 billion cells responding to over 140,000 small molecules and genetic perturbations. This microscopy image dataset, which would represent the largest collection of cell images generated by Cell Painting, will act as a reference collection to potentially fuel efforts for discovering and developing new therapeutics. Twelve partners from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries have joined the effort, called the Joint Undertaking in Morphological Profiling with Cell Painting (JUMP-CP).

Once the image dataset is created, it will be available to consortium members for the first year, after which it will be freely available for use by the scientific community. With the complete reference dataset, potential applications include predicting a compound’s activity and toxicity in cells, matching appropriate drugs to different disease states, and more.

This initiative received funding through the MLSC’s Bits to Bytes capital program. The MLSC funded approximately $750,000 per project, for a total of $6.7 million. The Bits to Bytes capital program aims to drive life science innovation in Massachusetts in the area of Big Data by providing open access to data, enabling multiple groups to leverage this data, which will in turn, accelerate discovery and fill an existing funding gap for biomedical research.