Research NewsIMAGING

A Womb With a View

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Science  21 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5342, pp. 1397-1399
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5342.1397

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Noninvasive imaging techniques move from the clinic to the laboratory, doing for developmental biologists what Technicolor and CinemaScope did for the movies. By adapting established technologies such as ultrasound imaging, confocal microscopy, and magnetic resonance imaging, researchers are developing new ways to make images of once-hidden embryos. They are also harnessing computers to represent existing molecular data in its anatomical context. As a result, they are getting noninvasive views of mouse embryos and preserved human embryos that are sharper, deeper, more dynamic, and--most important--more informative than ever before. The new technologies are adding a third and a fourth dimension--depth and time--to the two-dimensional still images found in most scientific reports in embryology.