Complex biological systems are delicate machines consist of building blocks (such as proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and carbohydrates) that are precisely organized in the nanoscale. This presents a fundamental challenge for humanity to understand the biology and/or pathology underlying these complex systems. To gain the insight into physiological/pathological functions, one might need to map a large diversity of nanoscale building blocks, over a wide spatial scale. To tackle this challenge, we are developing a set of novel technologies that enable large scale visualization of biological samples with nanoscale precision, by physically expanding the sample rather than magnifying the light from the sample via lenses. This principle is called expansion microscopy (ExM). By combining various material engineering and chemical approaches, we are advancing ExM-based tools that may elucidate biological insights into the brain and other complex systems, such as cancer and infectious diseases.
- Y. Zhao (equal contribution), O. Bucur (equal contribution), H. Irshad, F. Chen, A. Weins, A. L. Stancu, E – Y. Oh, M. DiStasio, V. Torous, B. Glass, I. E. Stillman, S. J. Schnitt, A. H. Beck*, E. S. Boyden*, ‘Nanoscale imaging of clinical specimens using pathology-optimized expansion microscopy.’ Nature Biotechnology, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nbt.3892 [See also MIT News and BIDMC News]
- P. W. Tillberg, F. Chen, K.D. Piatkevich, Y. Zhao, C.-C. Yu, B. P. English, L. Gao, A. Martorell, H.-J. Suk, F. Yoshida, E. M. DeGennaro, D. H.Roossien, G.. Gong, U. Seneviratne, S. R. Tannenbaum, R. Desimone, D. Cai, E. S. Boyden*, ‘Protein-retention expansion microscopy of cells and tissues labeled using standard fluorescent proteins and antibodies’, Nature Biotechnology, 2016, 34 (9), 987–992. [Cover article in September 2016 issue of Nature Biotechnology (volume 34, No. 9).]