Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Making tissue transparent to visualise neural connectivity

03 December 2018

Looking Through You

To understand how our organs and cells work, we need to see inside the body, spurring on the development of ever more sophisticated imaging techniques, from X-rays to MRI scans. Now, a new method enables scientists to look right through a dead mouse’s body, by making its tissues transparent. In essence, solvents are used to remove fats and pigments, while making the body rigid to preserve its internal organisation, and tiny antibodies, known as nanobodies, are injected into blood vessels to label cells of interest. Named vDISCO, this technique can reveal structures deep inside the body with extraordinary detail, such as the entire nervous system, shown above in green. In just one of many potential applications, vDISCO is helping researchers uncover how injuries to the brain or spinal cord might affect other parts of the nervous system, information which could ultimately lead to improved treatment for trauma patients.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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