So far it was only possible to clear only part of the anatomy of mice to facilitate their study by scientists. But now researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have managed to create completely transparent mice, allowing significant progress in biomedical research.
But in spite of this we won’t have to worry too much about the possibility of seeing these animals running around our environment, because as a matter of fact these transparent rodents aren’t alive and scientists use them to study the tiniest details of their anatomy.
Before being chemically treated these animals are sacrificed and their skin is removed. Then they get the transparency of their internal organs, but not their bones. The result, as seen in the photographs provided by Caltech Institute, is a kind of gelatin block that keeps the shape of the mouse, with all its organs held by connective tissue and the gel that is used for the procedure.
Scientists had achieved so far transparency only in certain tissues. Last year there was an important advance when they disclosed a technique able to get the transparency of mice’s brain. But now they’ve made an even more important step because with this technique, as Viviana Gradinaru, one of the researchers from Caltech Institute says, such treatments reveal far more detail than X-rays.
The usefulness of this new technique will be relevant in studies about the characteristics of the nervous system or evolution in the spread of cancer in laboratory animals, says the scientist.
Mice are cornerstones of biomedical research because much of their basic biology is similar to ours and can be altered so that they simulate human diseases.