Serial Two-Photon Tomography

A team of neuroscientists researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, USA, led by Professor Pavel Osten, has developed a new technique to create images of the entire brain, after having conducted experiments on the brains of mice.


The new technique takes successive images of brain sections precisely, using a laser microscope with two photons. The resulting images are then computer processed, resulting in a three-dimensional image of the entire brain.

Developed in conjunction with the TissueVision company, new brain scanning technique was called Serial Two-Photon Tomography - STP.

Study leader, Professor Pavel Osten argues that this new technology is extremely accurate and is sufficiently developed to be already used in specific procedures.

The researchers tested the process at different resolutions, from 1-2 microns to less than one micron and obtained a complete set of data regarding the studied brain from 6.5-8.5 hours and a standby time considerably reduced compared to other current technologies.

Even if a scan at full resolution using Serial Two-Photon Tomography can take up to 24 hours, using a conventional scanning technologies complete data set can be achieved only in a week.

Professor Osten's team is currently using STP on the brains of mice tomography to identify genes responsible for diseases such as autism or the emergence of schizophrenia.

Extraction of DNA samples from the brains of deceased patients highlights the mysteries of mental illness

An American pathologist from Indiana University along with an international team of researchers extracted DNA samples from the brains of deceased patients belonging to the period 1896-1938 in order to observe if they contain genes related to schizophrenia or other mental illness.




It is believed that schizophrenia is caused by certain genetic variations, but researchers were unable to identify the precise mutation or series of mutations that are directly related to the disease.

Scientists took advantage of the fact that brain samples dating from the late 19th and early 20th century are kept perfectly preserved museum in a special substance (a form flammable gelatin and cellulose). The brains were not affected in any way by modern medicaments and have with clinical notes.

However, extracting DNA and RNA samples was not easy, because the brains must be treated with liquid nitrogen at -180 degrees Celsius temperature.

Although researchers have not published their findings, if DNA extraction method is validated, their work will be the beginning of the establishment of a database with important information about mental illness.



The brains were kept by the Medical History Museum Indianapolis