New Technique to See Inside Brain

Glioma of the left parietal lobe. CT scan with...

Stanford University’s researchers have reached a way to see the neurons in deep brain structure of living animals. They implant tiny glass tubes in the deep brain of anesthetized mice. After implantation the brain is not exposed to the outside environment.

This way it is possible to examine the same locations in a longitudinal setting.

Scientists study many diseases of the deep brain using mouse models, mice that have been bred or genetically engineered to have diseases similar to human afflictions.

The researchers have so far used the new technique to look at a mouse model of glioma, where they observed glioma growth in the deep brain in tumors that were believed to be located near the brain surface. They expect their method to be applicable to studies of numerous disorders, including neurovascular, neurological, cancerous and trauma-induced conditions.

When researchers want to examine the cells and their interactions at this site, they insert a tiny optical instrument called a microendoscope inside the glass guide tube. The guide tubes have glass windows at the ends through which scientists can examine the interior of the brain. The guide tubes allow researchers to return to exactly the same location of the deep brain repeatedly over weeks or months. While techniques like MRI scans could examine the deep brain.

The technique promises to improve understanding of both the normal biology and diseased states of this hidden tissue.

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