Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Technique Makes It Easier To See Mouse Embryo In All Its Glory

Date:
April 29, 2006
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
A fast, high-resolution, 3D mouse embryo visualization technique developed by collaborators at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Utah will revolutionize the way birth defects and cancer genes are studied in animal models. That's the prediction of the researchers in an article to be published online in PLoS Genetics on April 28, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal from the Public Library of Science.

Three-dimensional microCT-based virtual histology allows full assessment of an E12.5 mouse embryo.
Credit: Image created by David Weinstein (Visual Influence), Charles Keller, and Ali Bahadur (UTHSCSA)

A fast, high-resolution, 3D mouse embryo visualization technique developed by collaborators at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Utah will revolutionize the way birth defects and cancer genes are studied in animal models. That's the prediction of the researchers in an article to be published online in PLoS Genetics on April 28, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal from the Public Library of Science.

The new tool, called Virtual Histology, has already boosted the researchers' ability to study the mouse embryo and more rapidly focus on abnormalities of development, including childhood cancers. Birth defects are diagnosed in 150,000 babies in the U.S. annually. Suspected causes are genetic abnormalities, environmental insults, and drug and chemical exposures.

Charles Keller, M.D., assistant professor at the Children's Cancer Research Institute (CCRI) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is studying ways to improve treatment of two types of childhood cancers '" brain tumors called medulloblastomas and muscle tumors called alveolar rhabdomyosarcomas. Dr. Keller, a pediatric oncologist, moved to the CCRI from the University of Utah in 2005, and continues his collaborations with engineers and computer scientists at Utah's Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute. Dr. Keller routinely works with mouse embryos in trying to understand the role of developmentally regulated genes in the types of cancers that children sometimes acquire. The study of genetically modified embryos and their birth defects is usually a slow and laborious process, but Dr. Keller and colleagues have found a way to make the analysis much faster '" and more accurate.

Traditional histology involves embedding embryos in wax, thinly slicing the wax and delicately placing it on slides, staining the sections and viewing slides under the microscope, then mentally reconstructing the three-dimensional aspects of the embryo to reveal pertinent biological information. Under the new method, the intact embryo is stained to distinguish tissues (organs, developing bone and soft tissue) and is digitally scanned at high resolution using x-ray computed tomography. Computational methods are applied to analyze embryo organs for defects.

"From the moment of conception, the mice under study are genetically programmed to develop tumors," Dr. Keller said. "Intentional disruption of specific genes can cause birth defects in the same mice, which teaches us important lessons about how these genes function in both cancer and development." He noted that disruption of a cancer-promoting gene, Pax 3:Fkhr, causes a bone of the nose not to form, for example.

Beyond his own research into the function of cancer-causing genes, Dr. Keller suggests that this technique may have a role in making our households safer. "We make certain assumptions that our toothpaste, artificial sweeteners, pain relievers and household cleaning chemicals are safe for pregnant mothers," he said. "The EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) mandate that chemical and drug companies perform tests of reproductive safety, but how complete are these studies? Historically, these studies have been semi-quantitative or subjective. However, microCT-based Virtual Histology allows chemical and drug companies to conduct these studies in a much more quantitative way '" improving upon the safety of the products we find in our homes," Dr. Keller said.

Dr. Keller and a colleague, Michael Beeuwsaert, founded a company called Numira Biosciences (www.numirabio.com) to patent and commercialize discoveries from Dr. Keller's laboratory. Numira plans to make Virtual Histology available to researchers through the sale of kits and imaging services. "Virtual Histology represents a vast improvement in resolution, time and expense compared to current methods and approaches for studying developmental defects in animal models," Beeuwsaert said.

Dr. Keller said Virtual Histology is a timely breakthrough, given the National Institutes of Health's recently announced goal to delete, or "knock out," every one of the 25,000 genes in the mouse genome. "These are exciting times," he said. "Advancements in imaging instrumentation and software tools are helping us understand the genetic basis of mammalian development in unprecedented clarity. It may seem hard to imagine, but putting embryology tutorials on an X-Box for eighth-grade biology students to study the genetic basis of development is already in reach."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Technique Makes It Easier To See Mouse Embryo In All Its Glory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060429125148.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2006, April 29). Technique Makes It Easier To See Mouse Embryo In All Its Glory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060429125148.htm
Public Library of Science. "Technique Makes It Easier To See Mouse Embryo In All Its Glory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060429125148.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins