Online Lab Intro (Korean) – 2021 Spring

Tissue engineering for novel imaging approaches

We develop novel tissue engineering technologies via hybridizing biological tissues with unique synthetic materials including hydrogels. These hydrogels modify the physical, mechanical and chemical properties of biological tissues, thereby making the biological content in the tissues better observed with imaging tools such as light microscopes.

We have applied such tissue engineering approaches to developing tissue clearing (e.g., ELAST) and tissue expansion (e.g., MAP) technologies.

ELAST (Entangled Link-Augmented Stretchable Tissue-hydrogel) Technology
Ku et al. (2020) Nature Methods

This technology transforms biological tissues, such as large human brain tissues, into elastic material. The transformed tissues are virtually indestructible throughout experimental procedures, facilitating large-scale 3D imaging. The beauty of the elasticized tissues is their shape transformability to enable ultra-fast molecular delivery and deep-tissue labeling via tissue-thinning.

Video: 3D imaging of neurons after ELAST-assisted ultrafast labeling.
Videos: ELASTicized mouse and human brain slabs that are elastic and stretchable.

In addition to mechanical reinforcement and ultra-fast labeling, ELAST also renders biological tissues transparent. This new form of tissue clearing technology helps researchers explore large and deep 3D architecture in tissues, particularly human tissue specimens.

MAP (Magnified Analysis of Proteome) Technology
Ku et al. (2016) Nature Biotechnology
Method of the Year 2016 in Nature Methods
25 Landmark papers in Nature Biotechnology

Park et al. (2021) Science Advances

This technology physically expands intact tissues and organs, while preserving their biomolecular content, such as proteins. The scenes of biological architecture in expanded tissues always look several times larger, enabling 3D super-resolution imaging at the tissue level.

Photo: the mouse brain
before (left) and after (right) MAP.
Video: 3D super-resolution imaging of micron-sized neuronal synapses
(GFP: dendrites of a target neuron; synaptophysin: presynaptic boutons; gephyrin: postsynaptic puncta).

Our direction

Beyond our previous technologies introduced above, we’re moving on to the next stage to create innovative technologies in new categories. With these technologies we set our ambitious goals, such as revealing the complete brain architecture with showing how neurons are wired and build up the brain (supported by the Suh Kyungbae Foundation—a bit more details are introduced in the Foundation’s website in Korean—and the POSCO TJ Park Foundation).

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