Make rat bones transparent in the lab

With the current level of science and technology, we know that it is still a long way before the concept of invisibility comes true.

At the current level of science and technology, we know that it is still a long time before the concept of invisibility comes true . However, the researchers are taking steps toward that possibility by finding a way to make mice 'organs or brains transparent and, most recently, bones.

Our bones are made up of living cells, surrounded by calcium and collagen. These cells play a role in forming, regenerating bones and producing new blood cells. Despite being responsible for a number of important processes within the body, until now, we still don't know much about how these cells arrange and function. At the moment, there are two ways to see through the bone's internal structure, but they are all quite "rough."

Picture 1 of Make rat bones transparent in the lab
Our bones are made up of living cells.

The first way, crushing bones and extracting from which cells - a good way to count the number of cells but in this way, the original location of the cells can not be determined. The second way, cut the bone into thin slices and then place it on a microscope. The solution helps scientists know where the cells are located, but that's only a small part of the problem. In a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicin, scientists found a way to make bones transparent when they could solve the problem.

Biologist Viviana Gradinaru from the California Institute of Technology and her colleagues demonstrated their technique on rat bones, thereby giving hope for a better understanding of osteoporosis and other human diseases. someday in the future."Bone transparency allows answering many questions that we couldn't solve before , " said Corey Neu, a mechanical engineer at Colorado Boulder University. According to him, the new technology will be very useful in studying the aging process of cells, bone cancer, thereby suggesting more reasonable and effective treatments.

How did they do that?

Transparent bones are created after going through a process called CLARITY that was invented in 2013. The original purpose for the birth of CLARITY was to look through soft tissues. Based on this technique, Gradinaru and her team added a number of new processes that allowed them to see inside the thighs, tibia and backbone of genetically modified mice.

To do this, scientists removed calcium from the bones and used some chemicals to wash away excess fat and blood, freeing our eyes of the cells. . Next, Hydrogel will be injected to help protect the 3-dimensional structure of the bone and help chemicals flow inside.

A magnetic stirrer plate will be used to make the fluid move, allowing the chemicals to penetrate deeper into the bone. After 28 days, what's left is clear and gelatinous bones that are enough for scientists to look into the fluorescent-coated cells inside. Neu, who was not involved in the study, said his lab tried to make the bone tissue transparent but could never achieve it.

Picture 2 of Make rat bones transparent in the lab
This technique is not effective in living organisms because bones need to be stirred with chemicals for several weeks.

What makes the new study truly a breakthrough lies in how scientists can remove minerals from bones without damaging the cells. In addition, the chemicals used are also common types that can be easily found. If you are still thinking about the pills that can help your body stealth when you read this paragraph, you may be disappointed: this technique is not effective in living things because bones need to be stirred. with chemicals for several weeks.

It will be a big challenge if we apply the same process on human bones because the bone is transparent, the chemicals must be absorbed into the inside, and the human bones are large so the time will certainly be much longer. Gradinaru thought that it might be necessary to cut the bones into small pieces to shorten the waiting time. Currently, Gradinaru and her team have used new techniques to learn how to treat osteoporosis and other bone disorders and have achieved positive results.