UTEP team discovers method to preserve lizard brain tissue


Researchers at UTEP have developed a technique to preserve animal brain tissue. They say this technique is important because it can possibly protect certain endangered animals from extinction. 

“It’s  important because these animals are very rare. They are threatened. There’s a lot of global changes going on that are pushing these lizards, closer and closer to the brink of extinction,” says PhD student Danny Hughes. 

Without using electricity or modern facilities, Hughes and his team discovered a method that could help animals living in threatened environments.

“So we came up with a technique that’s been done for nearly a century, but we modified it for work in central Africa, so we can preserve these brains and bring them back to the labs in the best way possible,” Hughes says. “So then we can do our more fine scaled analysis of looking at different chemicals in the brain and the distribution of different cell types within the brain.” 

Members of the research team say that preserving the brains of endangered lizards will help them understand the different species that exist, the evolution of lizards, and our eco-system.

“Understanding brain chemistry in chameleons is all part of a global conservation effort, and as we preserve more of the planet a healthier planet is better for healthier people worldwide,” says UTEP professor Eli Greenbaum. 

The team says the last time research was done on the brain of these lizards was over a century ago. 

“We comparatively had it easier, lizards are smaller their brains are easier to preserve but this can be extensible to any small vertebrae animal, we believe,” says Arshad Khan, a UTEP professor  and researcher. 

Members of the team say that  preserving the brain tissues out in the field was difficult because of the tropical climate, mosquitos and other elements, but they were able to do it successfully and they are looking forward to using this technique on research in the future.

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