21Automated Measurement of Cardiomyocyte Dynamics with DHM

21.1 Introduction

It is crucial to improve the predictability of chemical toxicity through safety profiling assays during the lengthy drug discovery process. This should be done to detect potentially toxic compounds early in the process before considerable amounts of time and financial investments are made. Safety assessments are, therefore, performed in preclinical drug development to identify possible drug side effects, particularly those that may affect the electrical conduction and beating of the heart [13]. Consequently, it is critical to establish more informative tools for in vitro cardiotoxicity screens at early phases of drug development to prevent late‐stage failure [46].

Cardiomyocytes, also known as myocardial cells, are main contractile elements of heart muscles. These cells can collaborate with each other to generate the human heartbeat and control blood flow in blood vessels of the circulatory system [3]. Like many other types of cells, cardiomyocytes are mostly transparent. As a result, traditional imaging systems based on bright‐field intensity can only provide a low contrast image with limited informative details of the cell structure. Although some optical imaging techniques such as phase contrast and differential interference contrast microscopies can provide contrast for transparent cells, they cannot offer quantitative information on their thickness.

Various imaging systems have been used to ...

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