Q&A: How can advances in tissue clearing and optogenetics contribute to our understanding of normal and diseased biology?

BMC Biol. 2017 Sep 25;15(1):87. doi: 10.1186/s12915-017-0421-3.


Mammalian organs comprise a variety of cells that interact with each other and have distinct biological roles. Access to evaluate and perturb intact biological systems at the cellular and molecular levels is essential to fully understand their functioning in normal and diseased conditions, yet technical limitations have constrained most research to small pieces of tissue. Tissue clearing and optogenetics can help overcome this hurdle: tissue clearing affords optical interrogation of whole organs at the molecular level, and optogenetics enables the scalable control and measurement of cellular activity with light. In this Q&A, we delineate recent advances and practical challenges associated with these two techniques when applied body-wide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures* / instrumentation
  • Mammals*
  • Optogenetics / instrumentation
  • Optogenetics / methods*
  • Tissue Fixation / instrumentation
  • Tissue Fixation / methods*