MAY 05, 2020 6:15 AM PDT

A High Resolution Glimpse Inside the Brain

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

 

Imagine a future where we could “see” inside the human brain at stunning high resolution, detecting the earliest signs of tumors or neurodegenerative disease. While this diagnostic technology is still a way off, researchers are a step closer, with a new 3-dimensional (3D) imaging technique that provides a window into the anatomical structures of the brain at unprecedented clarity.

The 3D observation and analysis of organ systems has been common practice in biomedical research for over 100 years, and continues to bridge our classical knowledge of anatomy with today’s systems biology. Optical imaging techniques often combine the use of glowing fluorescent tags, which enable researchers to view these internal structures microscopically. A stumbling block to this technique, however, is the fact that tissues are opaque — masking the fluorescent signal and diminishing the quality of the images produced. Innovative tissue-clearing chemistry aims to circumvent this problem, revealing the previously-hidden intricate architecture of anatomical structures.

 

 

Imaging scientists at the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research have developed a novel technique for imaging internal structures from specific organs to entire organisms. By first immersing biological samples in a special tissue-clearing gel, followed by incubations with a mixture of tissue dyes and fluorescently-labeled antibodies. This helps them to identify specific cell subpopulations and intricate tissue structures within organs. The scientists validated their new protocol using brains isolated from mice and marmosets.

The researchers reported their findings in Nature Communications, showcasing the unprecedented capabilities of their newly-developed technique. 3D renderings of scanned images from the brains of the two species revealed never-before-seen similarities in their neural vasculatures. On top of that, the team demonstrated an unprecedented method of labeling multiple molecular targets in the mouse brain simultaneously.

The technique was also applied to image a whole organism (an infant marmoset) as well as a small sample of a human brain, showcasing the potential for it to be used as a research or perhaps even a diagnostic tool in the future.

 


Source: Nature Communications, Science.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
DEC 01, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Breathing New Life Into COVID Diagnostics
DEC 01, 2020
Breathing New Life Into COVID Diagnostics
Widespread diagnostic testing capacities are an absolutely critical tool for countries battling the pandemic. For now, m ...
DEC 10, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Gut Feeling: Microbiome Reveals Toxic Chemical Exposure in Kids
DEC 10, 2020
Gut Feeling: Microbiome Reveals Toxic Chemical Exposure in Kids
A study by Duke University researchers has revealed that children’s gut microbiomes hold clues as to their possibl ...
JAN 14, 2021
Cardiology
Cortisol in Your Hair Could Predict Your Risk of Heart Attack
JAN 14, 2021
Cortisol in Your Hair Could Predict Your Risk of Heart Attack
The everyday tracking of health has become far easier these days with the advent of fitness watches and other technology ...
JAN 14, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Tip of the Iceberg: Inaccuracies in Prostate Cancer Diagnostics
JAN 14, 2021
Tip of the Iceberg: Inaccuracies in Prostate Cancer Diagnostics
  Only 10 percent of icebergs are visible on the surface of the water; the remaining 90 percent remains submerged. ...
JAN 26, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Why Only Some People With a Rare Mutation Get a Heart Condition
JAN 26, 2021
Why Only Some People With a Rare Mutation Get a Heart Condition
Scientists have found a way to explain why a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) can be so differen ...
FEB 09, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Make Tissues Transparent to Spot Hidden Tumors, Let Machines Do the Rest
FEB 09, 2021
Make Tissues Transparent to Spot Hidden Tumors, Let Machines Do the Rest
A clearly defined border differentiates benign tumors from malignant ones. Malignant tumors start to get fuzzy around th ...
Loading Comments...