SALT LAKE CITY, Utah—As mouse models of human disease become more important in drug discovery, scientists are looking for ways to systematically analyze morphological changes triggered by mutations or the knock-out of every gene in the mouse genome. To facilitate this, researchers at the University of Utah and San Antonio's University of Texas Health Science Center recently developed a high-throughput virtual histology platform. They describe their system in PLoS Genetics.
Using x-ray microscopic computed tomography (microCT) on osmium tetroxide-stained mouse embryos, the researchers could identify morphological features down to 8-μm resolution. The platform therefore offers comparable but less expensive results than the more traditional magnetic resonance microscopy. And because staining increases with lipid content, they were able to observe large differences in tissue densities.
The researchers used the platform to study a large number of mutant and wild type mouse embryos, and suggested that the platform could perform semi- or fully automated high-throughput screening of both gross and subtle morphological changes when used at 27- μm resolution. According to Michael Beeuwsaert, CEO of Numira Biosciences, which holds the platform's commercial license: "The datasets generated by virtual histology will facilitate the use of computational methods for organ patterning analysis."