Transparent fabrics to observe the interior of an organism

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Until now, scientists have had two options for studying the interior of an organism. Or, cut it into thin strips, study each layer one by one, and reconstruct the whole in a 3D model. Or, use a tissue cleaning technique to make them transparent, and capture 3D images. In the first case, the process is laborious and leads to sometimes unsatisfactory results. And in the second case, cleaning does not eliminate certain pigments, which prevents the study of part of the organs.

But that was before ! Researchers have just published, in Science Advances, a new method for cleaning tissues while removing various pigments. Enough to be able to study organs and the nervous system in depth. Molluscs, fish, amphibians … “We believe that the method is applicable to several organisms” explains Hans Ulrich Dodt, co-author of the study, adding that it has not yet been tested for this purpose.

This technique, called Deep-Clear (DEpigmEntation-Plus-Clearing), brings together different chemical treatments with a synergistic effect. The depigmentation is then faster, which “preserves the integrity of tissues and organisms, so that the molecules and internal structures of interest are more likely to be preserved” explains Marko Pende, one of the co-authors. Their discovery could, for example, facilitate understanding of the molecular capacities of salamanders. Which can regenerate parts of their nervous system.

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