The next time someone asks you to clear your head, think twice. This mouse brain has been soaked in a mixture of chemicals to make it almost transparent. Scientists perfected this 'clearing' cocktail to allow high powered lasers to zip through the tissue, triggering artificial fluorescent proteins in some of the cells inside. Light sheet microscopy, a gentle way of capturing highly detailed images, can now zoom in on single neurons (green), and red-coloured cancer cells. In the brain, as well as many other organs, travelling or metastatic cancer cells can be difficult to track down, and how they manage to move is still mysterious. This new technique gives cancer cells nowhere to hide, and may help to predict how aggressive cancers spread in humans.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.