Mouse kidneys, liver, and pancreas imaged after treatment with a variety of protocols.
Researchers at the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center in Japan and the University of Tokyo have developed a method that combines tissue decolorization and light-sheet fluorescent microscopy to take extremely detailed images of the interior of individual organs and even entire organisms. The work allows scientists to make tissues and whole organisms transparent, and then image them at extremely precise, single-cell resolution.

The method, called CUBIC (Clear, Unobstructed Brain Imaging Cocktails and Computational Analysis), was used to take images of mouse brains, hearts, lungs, kidneys, and livers, and then was attempted on infant and adult mice. In all cases, they could get clear tissues.

The method could be used to study how embryos develop or how cancer and autoimmune diseases develop at the cellular level, leading to a deeper understanding of such diseases and perhaps to new therapeutic strategies. The group plans to allow for the rapid imaging of whole bodies of adult mice or larger samples such as human brains, and to apply this technology to further our understanding of autoimmune and psychiatric diseases.

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