To help fellow scientists complete their labeling and imaging work faster, Kwanghun Chung’s lab invented a process called stochastic electrotransport, which can shuttle molecules through tissue without damaging surrounding structures. The technique can cut the time required to label a mouse brain from around a month to a couple of days.
Published in 2015 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the method moves charged molecules around with the power of electric fields. That active push works much faster than passively waiting for molecules to diffuse into tissue. Stochastic electrotransport works by applying a rotating electric field that pushes molecules in all directions so that they spread out, as in diffusion, but much more quickly. Meanwhile, because the field isn’t all focused in one direction, there isn’t a stress on the tissue.
Notably the same technology can also remove molecules from tissue, for instance to clear it by removing opaque lipid molecules.