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New Stanford Technique To Make Brains Transparent

• Francie Diep via PopSci.com

A new lab technique now lets scientists make gorgeous, fully intact images of bodily organs such as the brain.

A team of engineers has developed a way to turn organs from mammals, such as lab mice or human bodies donated to science, transparent. Once transparent, scientists can add chemicals to the organs that attach to and highlight specific features, such as different cell types. The result is an intact organ that scientists can see inside and study.

Because such visualization can be great for whole-organ studies, this isn't the first time scientists have tried to make some transparent brains. This new technique, called CLARITY, works better with chemical labels and is quicker than previous techniques, CLARITY's developers wrote in a paper they published today in the journal Nature.

To demonstrate their technique, the engineers, who are all from Stanford University, imaged some mouse brains:

Mouse brain imaged using the CLARITY technique
Mouse brain imaged using the CLARITY technique:  Chung and Karl Deisseroth, Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Stanford University
A piece of a mouse hippocampus with different types of neurons highlighted in different colors
A piece of a mouse hippocampus with different types of neurons highlighted in different colors:  Kwanghun Chung and Karl Deisseroth, Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Stanford University

 

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