Japanese Scientists Create Reagent That Turns Biological Tissue Transparent

Posted on August 31, 2011

Transparent Mouse Embryo

Researchers at RIKEN, a Japanese research organization, have developed a chemical solution that turns biological tissue transparent. The photograph above shows two mouse embryos. The transparent embryo was treated with the reagent.

The researchers say the reagent offers an ideal means for analyzing the complex organs and networks that sustain living systems. The researchers say they have already used the reagent to study neurons in the mouse brain at unprecedented depth and level of resolution.

The reagent currently cannot be used on live tissue, but the researchers are working on another reagent that might make transparent live tissue a reality. The researchers said in a statement, "We are currently investigating another, milder candidate reagent which would allow us to study live tissue in the same way, at somewhat lower levels of transparency. This would open the door to experiments that have simply never been possible before."

The reagent, named Scale, was developed by Atsushi Miyawaki and his team at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute (BSI). The research was published this week in Nature Neuroscience.

Photo: RIKEN

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