US researchers have developed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology that produces images 64 million times sharper than the devices currently used in hospitals, giving them hope for a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease.
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After decades of research, a team of scientists led by Duke University has shared the most detailed images ever taken of a mouse brain.
“It’s the equivalent of going from an 8-bit image to the hyper-realistic detail of a Chuck Close painting,” the university said in a statement.
Although the scientists pointed their new technique in the direction of mice rather than humans, the details in the images captured by this new MRI could lead to “a better understanding of changes in the brain according to age, diet, and even diseases.” Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
“It’s something that will allow us to do a lot of things,” Alan Johnson, the lead author of the study associated with these images, shares. We can start to see degenerative diseases in a whole new light.
Several developments were necessary to achieve this feat, notably the use of a magnet with a strength of 9.4 Tesla, a magnet 3 to 6 times more powerful than that currently used by MRIs.
Files 100 times more powerful are also used, along with a computer equivalent of 800 fully functioning laptops to produce the image of a single brain.
This image is then analyzed using fluorescent light paper microscopy, which allows them to isolate different cells in different colors, resulting in an image that is “more anatomically accurate and gives more detail to the cells and circuits in the brain.”
Researchers from the Universities of Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, and Indiana also participated in this round.
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