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IMAGE: These images were created using the new staining method: left: Micro-CT image of a mouse kidney, right: Nano-CT image of the same tissue. view more 

Credit: Mueller, Pfeiffer / TUM / reproduced with permission from PNAS.

To date, examining patient tissue samples has meant cutting them into thin slices for histological analysis. This might now be set to change – thanks to a new staining method devised by an interdisciplinary team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM). This allows specialists to investigate three-dimensional tissue samples using the Nano-CT system also recently developed at TUM.

Tissue sectioning is a routine procedure in hospitals, for instance to investigate tumors. As the name implies, it entails cutting samples of body tissue into thin slices, then staining them and examining them under a microscope. Medical professionals have long dreamt of the possibility of examining the entire, three-dimensional tissue sample and not just the individual slices. The most obvious way forward here lies in computed tomography (CT) scanning – also a standard method used in everyday clinical workflows.

Previous limitations in resolution and contrast

Thus far, there have been two major hurdles to the realization of this goal. Firstly, the resolution of

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