How High-Content Screening Works & How We Save You Time & Money

Excedr - High Content Imaging Systems

Excedr’s leasing program can source all instrument types and accommodate any brand preferences you might have. Request an HCS/HCA system lease estimate today and see how leasing can discount your high-content screening instrument’s price.

All equipment brands/models are available

The Advantages of Excedr’s High Content Screening and Analysis Leasing Program:

  • Eliminates the upfront cost of purchasing equipment by spreading its cost over time
  • Minimizes equipment downtime with included complete repair coverage and preventive maintenance
  • Takes advantage of potentially 100% tax deductible* payments, providing you significant cash-savings
  • Expedites the administrative work needed for instrument procurement and logistics
  • Conserves working capital,  enabling you to reinvest in your core business and operations (staffing, inventory, marketing/sales, etc.)
  • Accommodates all manufacturer and model preferences

*Please consult your tax advisor to determine the full tax implications of leasing equipment.

a microscope, an ocular lens, and microscopic image next to each other

High-content screening and analysis (HCS/HCA) are powerful methods used to image and evaluate cells to gain an understanding of phenotypic change at the cellular level. 

HCS and HCA systems, which involve automated microscopy and image analysis, were first introduced over twenty years ago. Although the equipment has since evolved, the screening process typically remains universal amongst the scientific community. 

Traditional screening and imaging methods limit quantitative results to clusters of thousands of cells. HCS allows a combination of morphological and functional information to be recorded for individual cells. HCS uses automation, fluorescence imaging and detection, and specialized algorithms to provide visualization and quantification for large-scale applications.

These visualizations make it useful in a variety of fields that require live cell imaging, such as drug discovery, cell behavior/mechanisms, and in vitro toxicology studies. HCS systems are also ideal for studying 3D cell culture models.

Like high-throughput screening (HTS), high-content imaging enables a more efficient workflow by automating the imaging process and removing possible investigator bias by providing highly quantitative rather than subjective results.

However, the two techniques have their differences. While HTS binds its targets in larger dimensions, HCS focuses on cell-based target responses, including the change in phenotype of the whole cell. In other words, HCS sacrifices some throughput capabilities for more comprehensive data.

Since its introduction, high-content screening systems have continually evolved. This evolution includes developments to the automated microscope hardware—cameras and confocal optics, for instance—as well as substantial software enhancements, improving image acquisition, analysis, evaluation, and data storage.

HCS improvements have supported the growing high-content screening requirements for higher-throughput, phenotypic screening and assays involving complex disease models, such as live cells, primary cells, stem cells and 3D spheroids.

Methods, Applications & Imaging System Instrumentation

a hand holding an ocular lens

HCS is a multi-step methodology that assists with the image capture and analysis of various biological processes. This imaging technique is highly favored and frequently used in drug screening for its precision. 

Although it remains similar in methodology, there are a number of methods and applications to distinguish between. We cover some of those below.


HCS follows a three-step process including automated image capture via fluorescence labeling, image processing, and cellular analysis. First, the sampled cells are exposed to a stimulus and are labeled with fluorescent molecules.

The molecules of these antibodies or probes are then recognized by the cells and activate a quantitative effect, marking the targeted stimulus of interest and capturing the images.

For example, an antibody may be used to interact with cellular histones and identify the damaged DNA. Once this process is complete, specialized algorithms are used to quantify the probe signals.

Retrieved images can be used with transcriptomics that can further analyze the mechanisms of the cell morphology and phenotypic characteristics.


Primary Compound Screening

Recent developments of HCS technology have shifted its use from secondary to primary drug compound screening. The pharmaceutical field primarily uses this analytical software to monitor cytotoxicity, solubility, permeability, and general stability of drugs.

These factors are identified and analyzed at single cellular levels, allowing researchers to remove factors that could potentially conflict with an assay.


Other Applications

Some other applications of high content imaging include:

  • Cytotoxicity: HCS can be applied to analyze several different cellular features including cancer, membrane/organelle functions, apoptosis, and cytotoxic morphology.
  • Kinetics: Time-lapse imaging of an assay can provide various kinetic measurements. These include speed, distance, and displacement of cell motility on a well. Movement factors such as these can be identified and used in cancer, motility, wound healing, and chemotaxis studies.
  • Cell Health: High-content imaging captures cell health features and helps identify the early or late stages of cell toxicity. Analysis of images shows proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. The biomarkers aid in obtaining and revealing important information in toxicology, cell survival, and cancer drug screenings.


HCS technology generally combines fluorescence microscopy, cellular image analysis software (such as flow cytometry), and IT-systems to analyze and store data at the single-cell level. Together, these handle the steps in taking fluorescent images of cells and providing rapid, automated and unbiased experiment assessments.

HCS instruments are categorized by various specifications, all of which influence the instrument’s versatility and overall cost. These can include image acquisition speed, a built in pipette or injector for fast kinetic assays, a live cell chamber with temperature, humidity, and CO2 controls, and even additional imaging modes such as confocal, bright field, phase contrast and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET).

An important difference in the HCS system’s imaging capabilities is whether the instrument can perform confocal imaging or not, as confocal microscopy enables higher image signal to noise and higher resolution than fluorescence and epi-fluorescence microscopy.

If the instrument is confocal, it operates using either a laser light source, a single spinning disk with pinholes or slits, virtual slit, or a dual spinning disk. There are trade offs to using confocal microscopy, however. This includes affects on sensitivity, resolution, speed, phototoxicity, and photo-bleaching. Furthermore, the instrument can be more complex, creating an increase in costs.


A Brief History of HSC

Dr. Lans Taylor created HCS in 1996 to improve the process of screening cells and provide a subcellular individual analysis level.

HCS integrates historical developments in both genomics and cytology. Since its discovery, HCS has rapidly expanded to different fields including systems cell biology and pharmaceuticals.

In the near future, this technology is expected to be integrated with individualized medicine. Physicians aim to use HCS for identifying biological markers for patients, leading to genetic and medical treatment results personalized for each individual.


High-Content Imaging System Leases to Fit Every Need

an ocular lens and eyepiece tube with a microscopic image displayed

If you’re research requires cellular imaging and data analysis via high-content screening, Excedr can help you acquire the HSC/HCA system best suited for your laboratory. Our leasing program spreads out the high costs of specialized life sciences technology through affordable and flexible payment options. Whether you’re interested in a system capable of fluorescence or confocal microscopy, we can help.

Don’t let your research suffer because of exorbitant technology costs. Reach out today to learn more about our program’s benefits and receive an HSC system lease estimate.

Operating Lease

This off-balance sheet financing structure provides three options at the end of the term. The lessee has the option to return the equipment to the lessor, renew at a discounted rate, or purchase the instrument for the fair market value. Monthly payments are also 100% tax deductible which yields additional monetary savings.


If you recently bought equipment, Excedr can offer you cash for your device and convert your purchase into a long-term rental. This is called a sale leaseback. If you’ve paid for equipment within the last ninety days, we can help you recoup your investment and allow you to make low monthly payments. This also frees up money in your budget rather than tying it down to a fixed asset.

High-Content Screening Imaging System Manufacturers & Models on the Market
Learn More

Thermo Fisher:
CellInsight CX5, CellInsight CX7, CellInsight CX7 LZR

Perkin Elmer:
Operetta CLS High-Content Analysis System, Opera Phenix Plus High-Content Screening System

IN Cell 2500HS, IN Cell 6500HS

Molecular Devices:
ImageXpress series



Operating Capital Benefits

Operating Capital Benefits

Excedr's operating lease structure allows you to keep your business credit line open for expansions, staffing, and other operational expenses. Additionally, it strengthens the cash flow of your business and keeps cash reserves free for business development opportunities.

Effects on Credit

Effects on Credit

Leasing / renting provides you with non-dilutive financing and does not hinder your future borrowing ability. You're able to acquire the equipment you need without the baggage associated with traditional financing.

Speed of Approval

Speed of Approval

Excedr's program allows you to respond quickly as your need for equipment and technology arises. You can be approved with minimal documentation and have the equipment you need in operation and generating revenue for your business quickly.

Refurbished Equipment

Refurbished Equipment

Unlike traditional financing and leasing companies, the Excedr program can accommodate refurbished equipment in addition to demo units. If you are looking for additional cost-savings, we recommend considering this option.