(ORDO NEWS) — Using the innovative EZ Clear technology, scientists were able to quickly and easily make tissues or even entire organs of a laboratory mouse transparent, making it easier to study them under a microscope.
In the future, using this technology, researchers will be able to create three-dimensional images of intact organs, studying them with minimal external intervention.
In order to study an organ or tissue under a light microscope, it must be made transparent, otherwise only an indistinct dark mass will be visible in the eyepiece.
Researchers use several methods, from cutting the sample into very thin layers (which implies partial damage to the original architecture of the tissue) to bleaching.
The latter process, until recently, was very laborious, requiring expensive equipment and work with hazardous organic solvents.
Because of this, bleaching was used extremely rarely and was beyond the reach of most scientists. Now, however, the situation seems to have changed.
The new method of decolorizing biological tissues, called EZ Clear, takes much less time (only 48 hours) and does not require special temperature conditions, and organs are stored in an aqueous solution of tetrahydrofuran throughout the process, without drying out or changing shape.
Moreover, mouse organs decolorized by this method can be immunofluorescently stained for further study.
The resulting transparent organs retain their shape and volume, while the tissues remain practically intact, which opens up unprecedented prospects.
Now it will be possible not only to study the structure of even the most delicate internal organs, but also to visualize, for example, the neural connections between the brain and the eye or the finest network of blood vessels in the liver and kidneys.
Compared to previously known bleaching techniques, EZ Clear has produced much sharper and more detailed images of mouse organs, although researchers have yet to test its effectiveness on larger specimens.
It is likely that using EZ Clear to study tissues in pigs or primates will require optimization of the method (for example, adjusting the concentrations of the required solutions), but the scientists expect that their method will pay off even when working with human organs.
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