Menu

Zooming In

To improve the reach of optical microscopy, researchers are enlarging the biological features they wish to view.

Jan 20, 2015
Jef Akst

FLICKR, MILOSZ1By enlarging cells and tissues by up five times their normal size, MIT researchers were able to observe some of the smallest features of life—such as individual neurons and synapses—using traditional optical microscopes, according to a study published last week (January 15) in Science. Edward Boyden, codirector of the MIT Center for Neurobiological Engineering, and his colleagues used the new technique, called expansion microscopy, to view objects as small as 70 nanometers—well below the typical 200-nanometer limit of conventional optical microscopes.

“We hope we have a technology that will allow you to scan the nervous system of entire animals,” Boyden told The New York Times (NYT).

The technique hinges on a polymer that is commonly found in diapers. Absorbing up to 300 times its mass in water, the material has the potential to cause biological entities to swell. By fluorescently tagging the structures of interest, then infusing the tissue with the composite parts of the polymer and adding water, the researchers were able to force the tissue to expand uniformly in all directions—up to five times its original size—while maintaining its overall organization. Boyden hopes that more fine-tuning could eventually result in the ability to expand tissues by 10 times or more, he told NYT.

September 2018

The Muscle Issue

The dynamic tissue reveals its secrets

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Enabling Genomics-Guided Precision Medicine

Enabling Genomics-Guided Precision Medicine

Download this eBook from Qiagen to learn more about the promise of precision medicine and how QCITM Interpret can help deliver better care with better knowledge.

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Download this white paper from Bertin Technologies to learn how to extract and analyze lipid samples from various models!

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced the launch of two new chromatography media for process protein purification: CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin.

Immunophenotypic Analysis of Human Blood Leukocyte Subsets

Immunophenotypic Analysis of Human Blood Leukocyte Subsets

Download this application note from ACEA Biosciences, Inc., to find out how to perform an immunophenotypic analysis of a human blood sample utilizing 13 fluorescent markers using a compact benchtop flow cytometer equipped with 3 lasers!