Tissue clearing clarification

Developments in tissue clearing—a technique that's allowing optical imaging to depict entire biological systems—are creating demand for new tools.

Barbara G 720

Developments in tissue clearing—a technique that's allowing optical imaging to depict entire biological systems—are creating demand for new tools. Earlier, I mentioned the first-ever (to my knowledge) microscope objective designed for light-sheet imaging of cleared tissue. What I didn't mention is that the Immersion Objective for Cleared Tissue will likely help broaden use of the approach. Representing a collaboration between vendor ASI (which conceived it, including specs, and assisted with optical design) and manufacturer Special Optics (which performed detailed design), the objective aims to replace the confocal objectives typically used for this application that are available as part of an expensive system. At least for the first year, ASI will be the sole distributor and will "sell it liberally" to end users and system builders, including OEMs.

While light-sheet microscopy (LSM) is the popular choice for imaging cleared samples, its illumination scheme hampers its ability to handle large samples. But a new modality promises uniform illumination from the detection-objective side of a specimen, and thus shatters lateral-dimension limits without degrading depth or speed. Light Sheet Theta Microscopy (LSTM) performs quantitative, high-resolution imaging of large, intact samples quickly and at high resolution—with better, more uniform quality than LSM.

LSTM is the product of research led at Columbia University in the lab of Raju Tomer, who will explain cleared-tissue imaging in a webcast (Cleared-tissue imaging: tools and applications) on April 25, 2017. Tomer will describe how tissue clearing works, how researchers use it, and how it has already benefited neuroscience.

Importantly, Tomer will also explain the need for concerted efforts to develop new data analysis tools because analyzing the large datasets that result from three-dimensional volumetric imaging is an up-and-coming issue that the industry will need to address to enable research even further. Yes, it's not all about the optical tools—it's about the data that the optical tools produce!

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