First molecular map of the entire retina is not far away

April 8, 2009

Researchers at the Moran Eye Centre are using transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) to develop TEM-compatible molecular probes with software that will tag cells with a molecular signature, creating 'colour' TEM imaging.

Researchers at the Moran Eye Centre are using transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) to develop TEM-compatible molecular probes with software that will tag cells with a molecular signature, creating 'colour' TEM imaging.

The researchers are reported to be on the verge of revealing the first molecular map of the entire retina and neuronal networks in both a mammalian retina and genetic models of retinal degeneration. James Anderson, the lead researcher said: "This technology lets the neuroscience field build circuitry blueprints for healthy neural tissues. We can compare diseased tissues to these blueprints to understand how they rewire the brain and use them to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments which aren't detectable with other methods."

These technical advances have reduced the time it takes to process high-speed colour ultrastructure mapping of the brain regions down to a few months. Robert Marc, Ph.D., Director of Research for the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah and colleagues have been working on this project for eight years. They have refined the software and molecular tools to where they are now able to share them globally. "This changes the playing field for building brain maps from a few specialized laboratories to the desktops of biologists world-wide," said Marc.

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