I have to admit I love the science section of The New York Times. The topic today: Dr. Karl Deisseroth and colleagues at Stanford University have developed a technique called CLARITY that uses hydrogel to make the brain look like it is made of Jell-O. They have successfully applied this technique to a whole mouse brain as well as part of a human brain. Using CLARITY, they are able to observe neuronal networks three dimensionally while still maintaining the biochemistry of the brain. This allows researchers to observe recent activity by staining specific pathways and structures with dyes attached to antibodies that recognize specific proteins. The hope is to use CLARITY to understand mental health disorders. Considering this technique also reportedly works well with other tissues (livers, heart, etc), it may revolutionize tissue imaging.
Chung K, Wallace J, Kim S-Y, Kalyanasundaram S, Andalman AS, Davidson TJ, Mirzabekov JJ, Zalocusky KA, Mattis J, Denisin AK, Pak S, Bernstein H, Ramakrishan C, Grosenick L, Gradinaru V, Diesseroth K. Structural and molecular interrogation of intact biological systems. Nature. OI: doi:10.1038/nature12107