Scientists conducting a study with mice at the University of Copenhagen have discovered a way to make the mice's blood fluorescent so that it can be seen as it moves through the body and brain. The process works with a protein produced in the liver called albumin. The researchers took a gene on a fluorescent protein and attached it to a gene of albumin. The modified albumin is then inserted into a genetically modified virus and the virus is injected into a mouse's tail, which has large blood vessels. The virus causes the mice no harm but enters the liver and tricks it into making the modified albumin which makes the blood fluoresce. As the blood moves throughout the body and goes into places like the brain, the flow of blood can be studied and analyzed to find out more about diseases like Alzheimer's, depression, and even strokes.
The new fluorescent blood method is a game changer for these types of studies because it lasts in the animal for months. Before this method, the main way to highlight blood and trace its flow was by chemical dyes and this lasted for only hours. Now blood can be traced over much longer periods of time and be used to trace long-term disease progression. The method is also being applauded by advocates for the ethical use of animals in research. The method is less painful and stressful for mice since it only requires one injection whereas the dye method required many reinjections since the dye disappeared over a few hours and had to be reinserted.
I think this was very fascinating research and really showed how advancements in genetics have allowed for this great new type of technology to be developed. This new method of using fluorescent blood is a revolutionary development and I believe will be very helpful to researchers and tracing blood flow for years to come. Being less stressful for lab animals is another plus of this study and I feel is another important advantage of this new method.