The technique used for this is called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy (NMR) that uses the magnetic properties of certain isotopes, such as carbon-13, which has a neutron more than most carbon. Carbon-13 NMR allows the identification of carbon atoms in an organic molecule but its natural abundance in the body in only 1 percent. So, the scientists overcame this problem by isotopic enrichment that is feeding the mouse with feed rich in carbon-13, which increased the carbon levels in it by 20 percent.
They then conducted NMR analysis of the mouse tissue to map the distance between the carbon atoms and reveal atomic structures. This gave them a reliable reference to grow artificial tissues in the laboratory, which would be as close to the real ones as possible. In fact the artificial ones were so close to the original that Duer says she has yet to find a biologist who can tell the difference. "We found that once you get it right at a molecular level, the rest looks after itself," she said.
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