The conventional method for characterizing brain tissues has always been the process of histology wherein tissues are cut into ultra-thin two-dimensional slices, placed on glass microscope slides and qualitatively evaluated after staining. The problem with this approach in the context of the brain is that the brain is a highly heterogenous and complex tissue that is challenging to evaluate using very thin sections. This led to the introduction of tissue clearing techniques which when combined with fluorescent labeling and 3D microscopy have allowed for the complete three-dimensional characterization of tissues.
“The problem with these approaches is that they are incredibly challenging to execute as they require the mastery of several disciplines and thus many researchers have struggled to implement them for routine use. At Visikol, we have developed a high-throughput workflow for transforming these tissues into three-dimensional data sets which allows our Clients to easily acquire complex three-dimensional insights from their tissues,” described Visikol CSO Dr. Thomas Villani. To allow for this workflow, Visikol has developed its patented Visikol® HISTO™ tissue clearing approach which is not only rapid and compatible with most labeling techniques, but also reversible which allows for follow up validation.
“While the original CLARITY technique received a lot of media attention, the Visikol® HISTO™ technology was actually developed first and unlike the CLARITY technique, the Visikol® HISTO™ technique can be reversed such that it can be validated against gold-standard histology for use in clinical and translational applications. Our pharmaceutical Clients find this validation critical and this is one of the key attributes which has allowed it to become a standardized tool for 3D tissue imaging,” described Dr. Villani.
Visikol works with ten of the top twenty pharmaceutical companies today on their drug discovery and development efforts and characterizes brain tissues for a wide range of applications. “I believe what truly differentiates us in this space is that we have developed a practical approach to 3D tissue imaging that can be validated and automated for routine use. I find that a lot of researchers have tried to tackle 3D tissue imaging with incredibly expensive and complex protocols wherein our unique and practical approach dramatically improves throughput while reducing costs and providing the right level of detail,” explained Visikol CEO Dr. Michael Johnson.
Instead of degrading tissue morphology to achieve deep label penetration and waiting weeks or using low throughput light sheet microscopy, Visikol relies on a standardized and automated process that images 1 mm brain sections using confocal microscopy. “We find that very few of our Clients actually need to image whole rodent brains intact and this approach enables the same level of imaging quality as more complex procedures while providing reproducibility, lower costs and higher throughput,” described Visikol Director of Imaging Services Dr. Graeme Gardner. To work with Visikol on your next brain imaging project you can simply send along a fixed brain tissue for imaging and analysis using Visikol’s 3Screen™ image analysis software designed specifically for 3D analysis.