See through rats next phase of lab experiments

In the end, scientists sacrifice the whole animal for a small piece of tissue.

Linda Mack | Oct 02, 2016

Rats are the primary experimental animals in labs. Suffice the obvious contrast to the human appearance their genetic makeup is actually pretty close. Scientists see the rapidly reproducing animal as the perfect specimen. But even with these characteristics, dissecting rodents still damages cells and structures while killing the rat. In the end, scientists sacrifice the whole animal for a small piece of tissue.

A group of scientists has now come up with a way to make the specimen transparent. They have found a way to remove the fats and liquids from the tissue before a scanning. This leaves the tissue undamaged and transparent, allowing scientists to view the specimen without cutting it.

However, the scientists believe that the rat subjects are the first phase of this new step. Their ultimate goal is to be able to view the human brain without any insertions. "Now, for the first time, we have a powerful tool that can make the human brain transparent and reduce its size to fit an imaging microscope for mapping," said Ali Ertu?rk, a brain researcher at Ludwig Maximilians University. "We expect that this method is readily applicable to small monkeys, even to a whole human brain shortly."

Prior techniques included slicing the tissue into thin slices before creating a 3D image from them. But even this left some cells damaged and in the end did not give a clear indication of how the structure really looked like, missing small yet significant details.

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