In a new study published in  Scientific Reports , Japanese researchers report, CUBIC , a tissue clearing and 3D imaging technique including a tissue processing that makes human organs transparent , provides a better assessment of lesions for pathological diagnosis .

"Traditionally, pathological diagnosis is made by taking 2D sections of a specimen resected from patients. It is effective, but we can not exclude the possibility that important findings from the cut surface are overlooked ," explains co-corresponding-author Eiichi Morii, of Osaka University.

Contemporary methods are based on staining techniques from the 19th Century. Patient specimens are cut into thin sections that are stained and analyzed under a microscope. However, this method has limitations in its relatively narrow range of observation area and in its two-dimensionality.

CUBIC (Clear, Unobstructed Brain / Body Imaging Cocktails and Computational Analysis) was first reported by RIKEN Group Director Hiroki R. Ueda, who is the corresponding author of this study, and his colleagues three years ago. It has been used to observe whole organs mainly from experimental animals.

In the new study, Ueda and his colleagues Demonstrated That can be used CUBIC to observe whole organs from humans and That it Surpasses current or study methods for pathological diagnosis.

The study shows CUBIC applicability to the 3D imaging of patient lung and lymph node tissues, clearly delineating normal and abnormal regions. After routine observation, many patients samples are stored at hospitals as paraffin-embedded tissue blocks. Additionally, the study shows that the combination of appropriate deparaffinization and CUBIC enabled 3D imaging of these older specimens.

"These results mean that we have not only newly samples but also paraffin-embedded tissues stored in the pathological archives of hospitals," said Osaka University Assistant Professor Satoshi Nojima, who first-authored the study.

The scientists also examined the practical diagnostic potential of CUBIC. They showed that CUBIC was much more capable of detecting metastatic carcinomas in lymph node specimens compared to standard pathology techniques.

These findings show the potential of CUBIC for retrospective and prospective clinicopathological diagnosis. "Our wish is to improve CUBIC so that it leads to the establishment of a novel field of medical science based on 3D histopathology ," Ueda said.