Visikol is a chemical formula that turns intact animals into surreal skeletons, and if fundraising efforts are successful, it may soon be available to the general public. Fluorescent mice for all!
The potion was developed by a group of Rutgers PhD students and has been used in labs for over a year. Not content with just assisting researchers, the creators have developed TaxiClear, a product to bring Visikol “out of the lab” and into the hands of anyone who can find a use for it. The team says their formula will aid educators and “ignite passion” for biology in artists, amateur scientists, and hobbyists. Here’s TaxiClear’s Kickstarter video.
Michael Johnson explained to io9 how their formula preserves tissue while causing transparency:
The reason we cannot see through our hand is that the refractive index of the differing cellular components are different and the light is totally distorted making our hand non-translucent. Visikol permeates into tissues and makes the refractive index of differing cellular components the same and thus the tissue becomes translucent. We subsequently can stain the specimen to make the bones or cartilage different colors.
Without donors’ support, the team won’t have the funds necessary to make the formula available outside of a lab setting. Thankfully, they’re offering some truly unique incentives for prospective benefactors. Donate $40 or more and you can be the proud owner of “a beautiful cleared mouse for this very low price”!
For $50 or more, you’ll get one of the team’s Whole Body Anoles, which “look like fluorescent dragons. They will make a great conversation piece on your desk or specimen in your classroom.”
High-tier backers will receive a mouse/anole package or a chance to meet with the creators in person to learn more about TaxiClear, so what are you waiting for? Here’s your chance to spread scientific knowledge and decorate your home. A mouse would tie your mantelpiece together nicely.