Microscopy Advances Accelerate Neuroscience Research

The intricacies of brain function are intimately tied to the complexity of brain structure, both of which we are only just beginning to understand. Microscopy, one of the most important tools for unraveling the interconnectedness of brain structures, is advancing at a quick pace. Advances such as super-resolution microscopy are enabling neuroscientists to approach brain imaging in ways that weren’t previously possible, visualizing the nervous system at subcellular and molecular levels, and raising hopes of future therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here’s a look at recent neuroscience discoveries made possible by ongoing microscopy advances.

Single-molecule imaging within the brain

The brain’s unique spatial organization makes it a prime target for investigation by microscopy—especially as techniques mature in both resolution and molecular capabilities. Vizgen’s MERSCOPE platform uses MERFISH (multiplexed error-robust fluorescence in situ hybridization), a single-molecule imaging technology that can measure the copy number of up to 100s of 1000s of RNA molecules simultaneously, with subcellular resolution. “The MERSCOPE platform enables spatially profiling the expression of hundreds of genes across full tissue slices, revealing the exact three-dimensional coordinates of nearly all copies of the targeted transcript with better than 100 nm accuracy,” says George Emanuel, Scientific Cofounder, Director of Technology and Partnerships at Vizgen.