Matthew Bettino 4/13/13
Biology Davies C
New technique gives see-through view into mouse brains
I read an article that told of a new method scientists have discovered in the observation of the brains of mice. The new method is based around removing light-blocking fat molecules that surround the brains of mice. This new method allows scientists observe the brains circuitry in entirety. Before this new method was discovered, scientists had a surprisingly difficult time observing the brains of the mice they conducted tests on. Usually, a full or thin slice of brain is observed under a light microscope by researchers. However, the lipids in the brain scatter the light penetrating them, causing an unclear image. To overcome this blockage, Karl Deisseroth invented a new way to observe thin brain samples. First, the brain samples are soaked in a cocktail. When heated, the plastic-like substance stuck to everything except the fats in the brain. Once separated, the lipids are drained out. This leaves a clear, transparent brain. However, all of the important parts of the brain are left intact. This entire process is called CLARITY. Scientists are excited because they will be able to map out the entire long-distance connections of the brain. Also, scientists are hopeful that they will be able to use this method on other organs of test subjects. However, they are a bit concerned with the use of Clarity on other organs because lipids play more important roles in these organs.
This breakthrough in the observation of mice shows obvious importance towards science. This ability to remove the light-blocking lipids from the samples of the brains of mice allows scientists to make more detailed and accurate observations in their work. The clearer brain image will also allow scientists to map out an image of how the inner circuitry of the brain of an animal functions. Even though this aspect is very interesting, there is a more important and broad importance of Clarity. Mice are used in many lab tests. These tests include the study of vaccinations, medications and other cures for high profile diseases in our society. Like Mrs. Davies told us in class, she and her lab partners use rats and mice in their studies of cancer. These mice are under close observation, and are the sole data of many of these tests. Scientists believe that they may be able to use Clarity or other similar methods to clarify the image of other organs in mice under a microscope. If these organs were able to be viewed more precisely, the tests of life saving medications and vaccinations could see improved accuracy. Improved accuracy only leads to better data. Better data leads to better end results. If the idea of Clarity could be applied to other lab tests on mice, scientists could improve the disease preventing and curing medications already in existence. Also, there is a possibility of some kind of cure being found.
I thought this article was very well written. The author got to the point right off the bat, explaining how Clarity works and how it is important to the scientific world. However, there are two things that I believe the author could have added to make this article even better. First, I would have liked to know a bit more about the direct and specific impact of Clarity. The author did say it would help scientists map out a better circuitry image of the brain of a mouse but why is that important? Also, I would have liked to know a bit more background about the topic at hand. The author gave the reader no idea of what a pre-Clarity brain sample would have looked like. This would have enhanced the readers understanding of why Clarity is so important to science. However, with these two comments aside, I did find the article to be both informative and interesting. The article really showed me how such small breakthroughs in science can have such a profound influence on our society.
"New Technique Gives See-through View into Mouse Brains | Genes & Cells | Science News." New Technique Gives See-through View into Mouse Brains | Genes & Cells | Science News. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2013. <http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/349560/description/New_technique_gives_see-through_view_into_mouse_brains>.