Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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A new technique for 3D imaging of non-transparent subjects can be used to track developing organisms

30 January 2019

On the Surface

Much biomedical research seeks to investigate what’s beneath the skin, revealing the hidden mechanics of our organs and cells. But these inner workings impact the surface too, and getting the whole picture requires monitoring every aspect. For example, to learn fundamental facts of animal development, researchers often track the early interior growth of a fruit fly – a common scientific test subject – in minute detail, but stop when the fly takes shape and monitoring becomes more challenging. A new technique for 3D imaging of objects provides the opportunity to continue the study further, allowing the subtle surface dynamics of a developing subject to be precisely tracked over time, and the large-scale consequences of microscopic events observed. The technique records colour and doesn’t require the subjects to be transparent or x-rayed – a limitation of previous approaches – and in initial tests and showcases has revealed details of flies, tadpoles, and even LEGO.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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