Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Line of Sight

New approach allows intact human organs to be cleared and inner-workings visualised

17 March 2020

Line of Sight

Like any complex machinery, it’s very difficult to understand how our organs work without seeing them in action. Technological advances over recent years have given scientists a glimpse into the inner workings of animal organs by making them transparent. Recently, a team of researchers have taken these techniques to a new level by applying them to organs from human cadavers. The chemicals used to make mouse tissue transparent struggle to make their way inside much stiffer human organs, so the team identified a new compound that allowed their entry deep within human organs rendering them transparent. Using a new imaging technology, they then mapped several whole human organs, including the kidney (shown here). Removing visual barriers will help scientists study intact human organs in detail, including the brain, and the maps created with this new approach could in future help doctors create 3D printed artificial organs for transplants.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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