Swedish scientists from Umeå University have demonstrated a new method that will help study certain types of cells in human organs with micrometer precision. The research results are published by the journal Communications Biology.
According to the authors of the study, the method is useful for detecting previously unrecognized changes in the pancreas. So the technology can be used to study other organs and human diseases.
The researchers split the organs using a 3D-printed matrix. They created areas of tissue that were optimally sized for optical imaging using 3D technology. To visualize virtually any cell type or protein of choice, the scientists labeled parts of the organ. Since each piece of fabric has known coordinates, the individual 3D images are assembled together using a computer into a 3D image.
This method allows the creation of high-resolution 3D images of human organs of almost any size. At the same time, micrometric accuracy is maintained.
Previously, scientists used optical projection tomography and light fluorescence microscopy to create accurate, high-resolution images of biological material. But there was one problem that previous methods did not offer a suitable way to label different types of cells or proteins for study.
Swedish researchers have used a new method to study the human pancreas. Inside it there are hundreds of thousands of cells that produce insulin – the islets of Langerhans. They play a key role in the production of insulin. When their production is disrupted, a person develops diabetes. Using the new method, the researchers have already demonstrated previously unknown features of the anatomy and pathology of the human pancreas, including areas with extremely high islet density.