To fix a faulty machine, you inevitably have to take a look under the cover, at the inner workings. And researchers interrogating the human body’s function and failures need to see what’s going on inside, too. One trick available to scientists is tissue clearing, which makes organs transparent, but this is hard with large adult organs, clouded by decades-old accumulated dense material. A new approach using different chemistry to help the key reagents permeate deeper through organs overcomes this barrier, generating transparent brains, kidneys and eyes. The researchers then used dyes to stain particular structures and reveal their physical details, such as the sclera, iris and suspensory ligament in the pictured 3D reconstruction of a human eye. Being able to study whole structures, rather than analysing tiny slices as much previous work does, will allow much easier cellular and molecular mapping of human organs, including the brain.
Written by Anthony Lewis
- Image from work by Shan Zhao and colleagues
- Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research, Klinikum der Universität München, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Munich, Germany
- Image originally published under a Creative Commons Licence (BY-NC 4.0)
- Published in BioRxiv, May 2019