Seeing inside living tissues without cutting them into little bits used to be difficult – opaque materials like fats just get in the way. But bathing this mouse pancreas in a recipe of chemicals removes these barriers, while leaving cells and proteins intact, to make the organ almost transparent. This technique, called CLARITY, is similar to another used to make ‘glassy’ brains. Here, see-through scans of the pancreas are assembled into a 3D model that can be zoomed around. Artificial green and red fluorescent proteins highlight the islets of Langerhans, clusters of cells which squirt hormones into the bloodstream, helping to control the body’s metabolism. CLARITY helps to show how the islets disperse throughout the pancreas during development, and identify genes essential to these patterns. Hints from mice could help researchers to understand how human islets are disrupted in Type 1 diabetes.
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