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Analysing organ or site-specific vascular structures by combining 3D imaging with mathematical frameworks

17 October 2022

Work Flow

There are around 400 miles of blood vessels in the human brain, serving our most energy-hungry organ with oxygen and nutrients. Analysing these pulsing networks, though, is a real headache. Here, researchers test a combination of techniques, known as CUBIC, on a mouse brain. First, they ‘clear’ the tissues, using a chemical cocktail to wash away opaque molecules like fats so a microscope can zoom in on the details. But flying through this series of consecutive images – we might spot something missing. Machine learning helps to ’classify’ the vessel structures, separating their faint lines from the original images, leaving us flying through a ghostly mesh of blood vessels pulled from the brain. Further computer analysis extracts features from the vessel networks that may be tell-tale indicators of changes brought by ageing or vascular disease. In the future, CUBIC may help to extract maximum information from other valuable tissue samples.

Written by John Ankers

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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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