In this project, Mason Dean, a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Germany, and PhD student Júlia Chaumel used sharks and rays to better understand cartilage biology, believing that the tissue’s distinct features could prove useful for biomedicine.  

Through EMBRC, they were able to gain access to saltwater tanks for live animals and advanced microscopy at the Observatoire océanologique de Banyuls-sur-Mer (OOB), an EMBRC site. 

‘EMBRC helped us connect these research needs, but moreover gave us access to the deep expertise of OOB, who helped us train on and troubleshoot techniques and bent over backwards to help us get the results we needed’, said Dr Dean.

‘As a result, our visits generated a large amount of novel data already heading into publications, while inspiring unexpected research directions, founding new collaborations and friendships’. 

Mason Dean research rays Mason Dean research  Mason Dean research team

In the 6-month longitudinal study, active mineralisation zones in living animals were marked with fluorescent calcium dyes to observe skeletal growth, while novel approaches to animal collection, tissue clearing and labelling methods were also developed. Furthermore, to visualise resultant tissue growth, extensive testing and adaptation of imaging technology was performed, which is where Euro-BioImaging stepped in. The researchers focussed on both linear (eg fluorescence) and non-linear microscopy techniques (eg second harmonic generation).  

In conclusion, researchers who used EMBRC and Euro-BioImaging services were able to conduct cutting-edge research that would be otherwise impossible in their home institutions.

Images: courtesy of Mason Dean