DDW Spring 2021

Innovation & Technology | imaging

Picture this: how imaging techniques are innovating drug discovery Lu Rahman takes look at some of the latest imaging inno[ation a[ailaGle and ho\ it can Genefit drZg target identification and drZg disco[ery research I maging is an important element within the drug discovery and development process providing based on where they reach, it’s possible that treatment time could be reduced - this could lessen the risk of antibiotic resistance developing. infected cells in the lung tissue and also had not entered all infected areas within infected cells. They were also able to see that this antibiotic was collecting in macrophages and in polymorphonuclear cells,

Advances in the imaging market and the benefits they create for the drug discovery and development sector, are considerable as technology suppliers continue to develop increasingly sophisticated solutions for researchers. According to Dr. Charles William Amirmansour, Global Business Development Manager, BioTek Instruments, the last decade has seen some remarkable developments in the imaging market. “Abbe’s diffraction limit has been repeatedly side-stepped by structured illumination and super-resolution techniques, the latter allowing microscopy of single molecules. In addition, technologies have improved to allow imaging of the interiors of thick specimens, including complex cell models and tissues using multi-photon and light sheet microscopies. Imaging of living cells and tissues has also markedly increased over this

researchers with information that can help identify potential drug targets or see how drugs are working. Developments in this field are ongoing and technology is continuing to advance to increase efficiencies and accuracy. Some exciting work has recently come from researchers at the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Western Australia who have developed a new imaging method to see where antibiotics have reached bacteria within tissues. It is thought that this could be used to develop more effective antibiotic treatments and reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance. An issue when treating bacterial infections, is getting antibiotics to reach the infected cells. The Francis Crick Institute says that if researchers could select for or develop more effective antibiotics

The researchers developed an imaging method enabling them to see where in infected tissues and in cells an antibiotic given to treat tuberculosis reaches the bacteria. Lung tissue frommice infected with tuberculosis was analysed and treated with the antibiotic bedaquiline. The researchers then combined a range of imaging methods – including confocal laser nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry – to develop a new imaging method Correlative light, electron and ion microscopy in tissue (CLEIMiT). The method enabled the researchers to discover that the bedaquiline had not reached all scanning microscopy, 3D fluorescence microscopy, electron microscopy and

both types of immune cell. This was a surprise as these cells have different environments and it wasn’t thought that one antibiotic would be able to enter both. According to Tony Fearns, author and Senior Laboratory Research Scientist in the Host-Pathogen Interactions in Tuberculosis Laboratory at the Crick, this approach could be used to help develop new antibiotics or to re-assess current antibiotics to judge how effectively they reach their targets. “The more we learn about how drugs behave in the body, for example where they collect, the better we will be able to treat bacterial diseases like tuberculosis,” he said.

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Drug Discovery World | Spring 2021

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