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.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.