Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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A Clearer Picture
21 August 2016

A Clearer Picture

All the effort of climbing to a mountaintop can be for naught when a cloudy day ruins the view. The scattering of light can also spoil the view at a microscopic level, particularly when imaging tissues. A technique called CLARITY can help by making tissues transparent through the removal of their lipids. However with the lipids gone, can a tissue still hold itself together? To avoid this potential pitfall CLARITY uses a highly toxic chemical called acrylamide to lock the tissue’s proteins in place. This adds more complexity to a technique that can already take weeks to complete. Researchers therefore tested whether this step could be replaced with a simpler process called fixation. The simplified CLARITY technique still preserved tissue integrity and produced images of equal quality, exemplified by nerve cells imaged in a section of mouse cerebellum (pictured). Now easier to implement, this technique can be more widely applied.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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