Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Invisibility Serum


Left: Mouse embryo soaked in just saline solution. Right: Mouse embryo washed in Scale

Soaking the tissues in the chemical substance made them biologically transparent.

Maybe in the near future, doctors can say “I can see what’s going on inside your brain.” Literally.

A chemical known as Scale, which is in its experimental stage, turns brain tissue totally crystal clear. In other words, transparent. It’s like looking into a brain tissue with ”X-ray vision.”

Atsushi Miyawaki, scientist at Japan’s RIKEN Brain Science Institute said that their current experiments are “focused on the mouse brain” but the application could be limitless. They envision using Scale on other organs like muscles, heart, and kidneys and other biopsy samples from tissue taken from primates and humans.

Soaking the tissues in the chemical substance made them biologically transparent.

A neurologist at the UCLA School of Medicine, Dr. Paul Thompson, is a 20-year veteran in the field of brain imaging and he is extremely impressed at this discovery and its potential applications. He mentioned that photos of embryonic mice treated with Scale and transparent organs are absolutely amazing. “Seeing something like this truly had a wow factor,” he said.

The chemical solution, Scale, is made from just 2 simple compounds: urea-the dominant compound in urine-glycerol and Triton-X, a detergent.

One exciting application that experts are thinking about in the future is being able to see if medication is really getting to parts of the brain or other organs that are being treated. Also, one advantage of using this chemical is that it’s less expensive than CT scans or MRI.

Scale is currently too toxic for living creatures, so you won’t be worrying about the “invisible mouse” running around your house any time soon.

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