Hey, you know what would help in studying body and brain tissue? If all of that other tissue around it didn’t get in the way and block the view. And upon that notion was born the transparent mouse.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (CIT) were tired of the messy and sometimes imprecise process of dissecting and slicing organs usually used for microscopic organ study. So they created an improved version of a chemical clarification process that produced the glassy little fellow you see above. Don’t worry, this isn’t a live transparent mouse, not that one could survive the technique that makes one transparent.
According to New Scientist, the process removes lipids, fat and other waxy substances that block light, and replaces them with a clear gel through the use of chemicals. An earlier version of the process developed at Stanford University used chemicals and electricity in a way that limited the amount of tissue that could be transformed, but CIT team’s refined version actually pumps detergent through the animal’s circulatory system and can render a whole mouse see-through in two weeks.
The newly pellucid mouse is just right for the scientist to inject fluorescent chemicals into to study microscopic brain and cell tissue, producing detailed and unobstructed maps of those structures. As you can see below the resulting images are both precise and strangely beautiful.
Researcher Viviana Gradinaru said the team is using this new clear picture to work on precisely mapping nervous systems, work that might help improve electrical never stimulation treatments for Parkinson’s, bladder control, and pain. The process has also already been used on biopsied human tissues to study cancer cells.
Images From the Study Published in Cell and New Scientist