Blown-up brains reveal nanoscale details: Material used in diaper absorbant can make brain tissue bigger and enable ordinary microscopes to resolve features down to 60 nanometres.

Boyden, E., Chen, F. & Tillberg, P. / MIT / Courtesy of National Institutes of Health A slice of a mouse brain (left) was expanded by nearly five-fold in each dimension by adding a water-soaking salt. The result — shown at smaller magnification (right) for comparison — has its anatomical structures are essentially unchanged.
January 15, 2015

by Ewen Callaway

Nature, Vol. 517, 254,
online January 09, 2015
January 15, 2015

A recent article in Nature covers the Boyden Lab ExM research as presented by Prof. Ed  Boyden at SfN 2014:

“Microscopes make living cells and tissues appear bigger. But what if we could actually make the things bigger?

It might sound like the fantasy of a scientist who has read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland too many times, but the concept is the basis for a new method that could enable biologists to image an entire brain in exquisite molecular detail using an ordinary microscope, and to resolve features that would normally be beyond the limits of optics.

The technique, called expansion microscopy, involves physically inflating biological tissues using a material more commonly found in baby nappies (diapers). Edward Boyden, a neuroengineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, discussed the technique, which he developed with his MIT colleagues Fei Chen and Paul Tillberg, at a conference last month.”

Click here to read Nature article >