Sci-Fi In Real Life: Reagent Turns Living Tissue Transparent

By Will LeBlanc | 9 years ago

This most recent advance in optical imagery will not only be one of the most revolutionary, but also one of the coolest. And I don’t mean cool like when the first man decided to roll a cigarette pack into his sleeve, I’m talking like the whole concept of this is a mind fuck beyond comprehension.

At the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan, mad geniuses have created a chemical reagent that will turn living tissue transparent. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

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I mean, how awesome is that?! Of course their goals are to make optical imaging of body parts easier for doctors, thus drastically improving their ability to diagnose a patient with a pesky disease they can’t put their finger on. The reagent, called Scale, has been tested on mouse embryos and, if you look in the image at the header of this article, you can see that it definitely has had an effect.

Scale miraculously doesn’t seem to interfere with normal methods of optical imagery like fluorescent labeling, instead it just makes those reading much more accurate. Super cool.

This technology has obvious implications for the future of medicine, but what about other applications? Scale so far makes living tissue transparent, which would mean that they could apply it to skin, muscles, organs and whatever else to drastically reduce the visibility of a person, which could have military application. Not to mention how awesome Halloween costumes could be if people could make their skin transparent. Can you say Hollow Man?

Currently testing has been limited to mice, and it’s not perfect, but if this is step one, just imagine where steps three, four, ten, and beyond will take them. See very sciency images and results over at Nature Neuroscience.

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