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Transforming Drug Discovery via Image-Based Profiling

Image-based profiling is a maturing strategy by which rich information present in biological images is reduced to multidimensional profiles. These profiles can be mined for relevant patterns, revealing unexpected biological activity that is useful for many steps in the drug discovery process. Such applications include identifying disease-associated screenable phenotypes, understanding disease mechanisms, and predicting a drug's activity or mechanism of action. Several of these applications have been recently validated and have moved into production mode within academia and the pharmaceutical industry. Some of these have yielded disappointing results in practice and although challenges remain, novel computational technologies such as deep learning that better leverage image-based information hold promise for accelerating drug discovery.