Image of the Day: See-Through Tissue

Scientists have developed a tissue-clearing protocol that allows them to peer into entire, transparent human organs.

Amy Schleunes
Feb 21, 2020

A complete, transparent human kidney treated with a new tissue-clearing method called SHANEL with glomeruli labeled in green and blood vessels in magenta.
Helmholtz Zentrum München / Ertürk lab

Scientists have developed a new tissue-clearing protocol that has rendered a whole, intact human brain transparent for the first time, according to a study published on February 13 in Cell

When it comes to clearing complete organs at the cellular and molecular levels, adult human organs pose a challenge due to the stiffness of their aged tissues, the authors write in the paper. Using a special detergent that penetrates and clears centimeters-thick organs, the researchers were able to observe the structural details of the human brain, eye, thyroid, and kidney, as well as a transgenic pig pancreas.

See “New Tissue Clearing Methods Offer a Window into the Brain”

S. Zhao et al., “Cellular and molecular probing of intact human organs,” Cell, doi:10.1016/j.cell.2020.01.030, 2020.

Amy Schleunes is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at