Ebba Bergman and Phil Harrison win the Adipocyte Cell Imaging Challenge

2020-11-23

Ebba Bergman and Phil Harrison, PhD students at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, are winners of the Adipocyte Cell Imaging Challenge – AI Sweden and AstraZeneca's challenge to create a solution to avoid using staining when testing new drugs on cell cultures.

Ebba Bergman and Phil Harrison, PhD students at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences
Ebba Bergman and Phil Harrison, Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences

In early November, AI Sweden and AstraZeneca challenged experts in the field of machine learning to create a solution to avoid using staining when testing new drugs on cell cultures. The winning entry was made by team HASTE, consisting of Ebba Bergman and Phil Harrison, PhD students at Uppsala University's Faculty of Pharmacy, who in collaboration with three other Uppsala researchers have developed an algorithm that makes it possible to read grayscale images of cells, thus eliminating the need to use toxic paint. The algorithm will be of use to AstraZeneca in order to accelerate drug development.

“We at AstraZeneca will be able to benefit from the results immediately. Our partnership with AI Sweden and the team's contribution has opened up for both new ideas and new collaborations. It will provide a catalyst to increase our capacity and potentially bring new drugs to market faster,” states Anders Holmén, Vice President and Head of Pharmaceutical Sciences BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca.

Team HASTE used a technology that partly focuses on collecting data points to create an overview of the cell structure, partly searches specifically for information about the cell's core, so-called privileged information. This makes it is possible to skip the staining of cells and immediately gain an understanding of how the cell is structured and will react to new drugs.

Eight teams with Swedish and international representatives from both universities and the private sector participated in the competition.

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text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Lab Ola Spjuth

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Last modified: 2021-06-22