Using virtual reality will enhance how scientists can examine organs and body tissues
Devika and biotechnology company Visikol are working together to find an easier way to analyse mouse brains. While it might seem a bit gory, analysing the microscopic tissues of brains and other bodily organs and tissues (a process known as histology) is a cornerstone of the biological sciences. It can help us understand the causes for disease and consequently develop treatments, and it can also help us understand how our bodies work and how certain lifestyle behaviours can be good or bad for us.
Currently organs being microscopically examined must be preserved, dehydrated, sliced very thinly and then stained to create contrast in the sample tissues. The samples can then be examined under a microscope. But what if there was a way for scientists to better examine the tissue samples? What if they could scale the samples up and down, rotate them in any direction and immerse themselves within them?
The team at Devika have been working with Visikol to build an application that recreates mouse brains in virtual reality. Using images taken from prepared histology slides, Devika has been creating an app that will allow scientists to study the brains in an immersive environment. Check it out for yourself below:
Visikol are a biotechnology company based in New Jersey, USA. They began after Visikol chief scientific officer, Tom Villani, discovered how labour intensive it was to use chloral hydrate as a plant clearing agent (important to the process of preparing histology slides). Along with Dr Jim Simon and Dr Adolfina Koroch, they developed a safe and easy to use alternative clearing agent. The Visikol team have now expanded their research beyond plant biology.
Initial responses to the app have been promising. Devika demonstrated the app to University of Wollongong neuroscientist Dr Katrina Green who said the app could even be further expanded to suit her own research. The app also shows the potential for VR to be used across the biological sciences to enhance research and learning outcomes for students.
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