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Shining a Light

New means to image centimetre-sized samples in 3D with unprecedented clarity

07 December 2019

Shining a Light

We’ve come a long way since the first microscopes in the 16th century, as illustrated here by an image created with mesoSPIM, the latest addition to the microscope family. Developed by scientists from different fields and European institutions, this new range of custom light-sheet microscopes allows scientists to create three-dimensional images of the brain in tiny detail, down to the level of individual neurons. High-resolution images of various tissue samples can be captured very quickly without having to cut them up as required with traditional microscopy. Once captured, images are used to construct a three-dimensional model of the whole sample, in this case the entire nervous system of a seven-day old chicken embryo. By teaching other scientists around the world how they can build and use their own mesoSPIM, the team hope that their invention will help unlock new insights about the neural networks in our brain and spinal cord.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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