Project Cell Painting

Cell painting – a promising tool for next generation risk assessment

Aiming to reduce, refine, and replace animal experiments (3Rs principle), Fraunhofer ITEM researchers are implementing new-approach methodologies (NAMs) to characterize potential toxic effects of chemical compounds and processes. A powerful tool referred to as “cell painting” (CP) allows them to detect an erosion of cellular health upon exposure to stressors, caused, for example, by variation of the cell metabolic state or by genetic perturbations, already at an early stage of exposure. CP is a high-content imaging-based method involving multiplexed fluorescent staining of different cellular compartments simultaneously. Using automated image analysis, CP can identify more than 5000 cellular features, forming a “cellular fingerprint” that reflects different biological responses induced by noxious compounds or processes.

© Fraunhofer ITEM
Cell painting with subsequent automated image analysis can identify more than 5000 cellular features, forming a “cellular fingerprint”.

Fraunhofer ITEM scientists have successfully established state-of-the-art CP assays including “wet-lab” workflows as well as challenging computational analyses. They are now able to determine the onset of morphological changes in terms of the minimal compound concentration that creates observable effects on the cells. The next steps will be to apply CP using different chemicals and detect their specific modes of action. With the CP technology, Fraunhofer ITEM has established a further strategic milestone towards the implementation of animal-free risk assessment. 

Your contact persons

Nataša Stojanović

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Nataša Stojanović


Phone +49 941 298480-51

Martin Hoffmann

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Martin Hoffmann

Project Manager

Phone +49 941 298480-28

Sylvia Escher

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Sylvia Escher

Head of Department of In-silico Toxicology

Phone +49 511 5350-330