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Seeing Through to a Mouse’s Nervous System

A mouse tagged with fluorescent protein that has undergone treatment with uDisco to become transparent. Credit Ali Ertur NY Times

A mouse tagged with fluorescent protein that has undergone treatment with uDisco to become transparent. Credit Ali Ertur NY Times

Neuroscientists have developed a way to turn an entire mouse, including its muscles and internal organs, transparent while illuminating the nerve paths that run throughout its body.

The process, called uDisco, provides an alternate way for researchers to study an organism’s nervous system without having to slice into sections of its organs or tissues. It allows researchers to use a microscope to trace neurons from the rodent’s brain and spinal cord all the way to its fingers and toes.

“When I saw images on the microscope that my students were obtaining, I was like ‘Wow, this is mind blowing,’” said Ali Ertürk, a neuroscientist from the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in Germany and an author of the paper. “We can map the neural connectivity in the whole mouse in 3D.”

Published by New York Times Aug 22, 2016


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