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Tools & Techniques Imaging, Neuroscience


It’s a pathologist’s wildest dream – the study of tissue without the need for labor-intensive, error-prone histological sectioning. A new paper in Science Advances (1) builds on recent advances in tissue optical clearing (2) to present a new approach to the three-dimensional imaging of whole organs – FDISCO.

Professor Dan Zhu is one of the project leads based at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China. He believes the new approach overcomes some serious limitations facing the field. “We wanted to maintain the advantages of original 3D imaging of solvent-cleared organs (3DISCO) in tissue transparency and tissue shrinkage,” he explains, “but we wanted to better preserve the fluorescence signals, which are quickly quenched in current approaches.”

To preserve fluorescence, the team modified the experimental conditions by reducing the temperature and generating an alkaline pH. Zhu believes these alterations might reduce the sensitivity of green fluorescent protein (GFP) to denaturation by tetrahydrofuran, a dehydration agent. This has given FDISCO major advantages over other clearing methods, he says. “It can simultaneously achieve a higher level of tissue transparency, substantial tissue shrinkage, and excellent fluorescent preservation.”

FDISCO allowed the team to image the 3D structures of the brain (a-e) and kidney (f-i) using fluorescent dyes. (Reproduced from [1.] with the permission of the authors)

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Jonathan James

As an assistant editor for The Translational Scientist, I can combine two of my passions; translational science research and science communication. Having thrown myself into various editing and other science communication gigs whilst at University I came to realise the importance of good quality content that delivers in an exciting and engaging way.

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