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New formula invented for microscope viewing, substitutes for federally controlled drug
Date:5/17/2013

Researchers at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and City University of New York have invented a proprietary new formulation called VisikolTM that effectively clears organisms to be viewed under microscopes. Visikol can be used in place of chloral hydrate, which is one of the few high-quality clearing solutions currently available but which is tightly regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) due to its use as a narcotic.

Clearing solutions, or clearing agents, are vital for viewing organisms under a microscope. Without them, microscope images become refracted and scattered, impairing the clarity of vision. Clearing solutions are used to identify specimens and examine their anatomy by "clearing" them, increasing the transparency of the specimen by rendering some components of a specimen invisible in order to better view other components of interest.

One of the most common clearing solutions is chloral hydrate, which is used for everything from studying plant organelles to authenticating herbal plant species for medicinal purposes. Its popularity in the research community, government, and industry stems from its high refractive index, which allows a high magnitude of light to pass through the medium and make specimens crystal clear under the microscope.

However, chloral hydrate is difficult and expensive to obtain, as it is regulated by the DEA as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Chloral hydrate is prescribed medically as a sedative, depressant, pain reliever, and hypnotic, and overdoses can lead to serious health issues, including fatal heart conditions. Chloral hydrate has also found use as an illicit drug, and has been used in sexual assaults. Thus, possession of chloral hydrate requires costly, annual permits and time-consuming paperwork. Despite its advantages for research and industry, chloral hydrate is an impractical, and sometimes impossible, choice for scientists.

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Contact: Beth Parada
apps@botany.org
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert

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