News2013 Runners-Up

CLARITY Makes It Perfectly Clear

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Science  20 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6165, pp. 1434-1435
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6165.1434-b

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A new brain-imaging technique that turns brain tissue transparent made the short list of runners-up for Science's Breakthrough of the Year. Called CLARITY, it removes the biggest obstacle to traditional brain imaging: The fatty lipid molecules that make up cellular membranes scatter light, making brain tissue opaque. By replacing lipids with molecules of a clear gel, the technique makes brain tissue see-through but leaves nerve cells and other structures visible so that researchers can stain, label, and study them. Scientists say CLARITY could make tasks such as counting neurons much faster and more efficient.