Stanford researchers have turned a dreary gray brain into an object as transparent as apricot Jell-O -- an approach that will reveal new secrets into the most mysterious of organs.
The process, called CLARITY, transforms the brainís tissue by replacing opaque fat with a clear gel, creating a limpid organ with all of its essential circuitry intact and in place.
"Brain tissue is very dense," said researcher Kwanghun Chung. "We have developed a technique that makes tissue transparent ... so we can visualize the architecture, necessary to understand the function of the complex organ."
The technique ushers in a new era of whole-organ imaging, offering hope for improving the study of such devastating neurological disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimerís disease and Parkinsonís disease.
It was conceived by a team led by bioengineer and psychiatrist Dr. Karl Deisseroth, one of the 15 experts on the "dream team" that will map out the goals for the $100 million brain research initiative announced April 2 by President Obama.
"This feat of chemical engineering promises to transform the way we study the brainís anatomy and how disease changes it," according to a prepared statement by Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Three-dimensional view of stained hippocampus showing fluorescent-expressing neurons (green), connecting interneurons (red) and supporting glia (blue).
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