Charting a New Course Through the Injured Brain

By: Rashmi Shivni

A state-of-the-art technique helps scientists map out tissue at the single cell level after a demyelinating brain injury.

When Ozgun Gokce was a child, his family’s television broke. Losing that TV prompted him to figure out why it went kaput. That initial curiosity led Gokce into a career of understanding why things break—specifically with disease. He is now a research scientist at the University of Bonn, where he investigates age-related neurological disorders and builds technologies to identify why and how brains degenerate.

In his latest foray into neuropathology, his lab developed a technique that merges multiplexed error-robust fluorescence in situ hybridization (MERFISH) with scanning electron microscopy (SEM). By tapping into both technologies, Gokce created spatial transcriptomics-correlated electron microscopy (STcEM), which links tissue sections with single-cell transcription and ultrastructural morphologies to render high-magnification cellular architecture with electron microscopy.1 He tested the new method on mice with demyelinating brain injury, which can trigger diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease, and produced global maps of the ailing brains.