On the 23rd February, the Wellcome Image Trust announced the winners of the Image Awards 2011. Judged by a panel of experts from both scientific and artistic backgrounds, the awards celebrate technical excellence in imaging.
The following image was submitted by Ian Smyth from Monash University:
This striking image captures a mouse embryo using ‘Optical Projection Tomography’- a technique which produces 3D images from light projected through an entire specimen. Denser tissues allow less light to penetrate it, so appear darker. By imaging the specimen as it rotates around 360 degrees, a 3D image can be build up by combining the shadow projections. This relatively new technique has quickly gained a reputation for producing high resolution images at the molecular level, with applications including gene expression.
Monash’s image highlights the developing organs in a mouse embryo. By staining the E-cadherin protein present in the speciment- which plays an important role in cell-cell interactions- the structures of the organs have been marked. The mouth and eyes of the embryo can clearly be seen, as they have significant staining. If you look closely enough, you can even see the developing urinary tract at the bottom of the image.
Images with this degree of depth and resolution are invaluable to produce accurate and detailed biological images of specimens and Optical Projection Tomography is at the forefront of advances in 3D images.