April 11 - Researchers at Stanford University in California have developed a process that renders an intact mouse brain transparent. By replacing the opaque fatty components in the brain with a transparent hydrogel, the wiring and molecular structure of the brain become clear to see with visible light and chemicals. The research opens a door to new imaging techniques that could potentially be applied to human organs. Ben Gruber has more.
On the left of the screen is a mouse brain. On the right is the same brain after undergoing a process called CLARITY, a new method researchers at Stanford University have developed to make whole organs completely transparent. The transparent, but intact mouse brain can now be seen in fine, three-dimensional detail. The process works by extracting the fatty lipids that prevent light from penetrating the brain, and replacing them with a clear hydrogel solution. The hydogel provides the structural support necessary to keep the brain intact, while revealing a clear three-dimensional view of all its various components. The development potentially gives researchers the ability to study the brain - and other organs - like never before. Researchers believe CLARITY could open the door to better research, allowing neuro-scientists greater access to the brain, and to their understanding of diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.