RxRx19: Over 300,000 Cellular Images for COVID-19 Therapeutic Research


With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting millions around the globe, researchers are racing to develop a vaccine or drug treatment. In an effort to better understand the cellular responses to COVID-19, the digital biology company Recursion has publicly released the world’s largest imaging dataset portraying therapeutic compound effects from over 1,600 approved and referenced molecules on SARS-CoV-2-infected human cells. The images and data were acquired using the ImageXpress Micro Confocal High-Content Imaging System from Molecular Devices, LLC., provider of high-performance bioanalytical measurement solutions.

Named RxRx19, the dataset from Recursion is an important contribution to a growing body of scientific data in the fight against COVID-19. The images and datasets are available and free online, giving researchers open access to both the images and the corresponding deep learning embeddings to analyze or apply to their own experimentation hypothesis.

“We commend Recursion for their leadership around RxRx19, empowering researchers with the statistically relevant data to advance our understanding of COVID-19 cellular responses and drug discovery. It is particularly valuable during this unprecedented time when many labs are operating at reduced capacity or are shutdown altogether due to shelter-in-place requirements,” said Susan Murphy, President of Molecular Devices. “This is a powerful example of how our innovative, high-content imaging technology enables customers to provide data to insights quickly and reliably to help explore treatments for COVID-19.” 

Recursion imaged plates using the ImageXpress Micro Confocal system in widefield mode with 20X objectives, acquiring four sites per well with five channels per site. Featuring a unique optical technology that reduces background noise and improves sharpness, Recursion achieved excellent image quality of complex morphological structures – all at the speed of widefield imaging and without sacrificing throughput. Images from the dataset captured with the imaging system can be downloaded here.

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