A “Whole New World” of Lymphatic System Discovered

The Discovery

Recent findings at the University of Finland and UVA School of Medicine have overturned 300 years of accepted anatomical fact. Until recent years, the scientific community believed that the lymphatic system — which functions in the body to remove waste and toxins — did not extend into the human brain.

Then came Kari Alitalo. Kari desired a better map of the lymphatic vessels, so three years ago he dosed the lymph cells of mice with a glowing jellyfish gene. At the end of the experiment, he was shocked to see that the mice’s heads were glowing. To be certain his results were correct, he repeated the experiment. His repeat showed exactly the same phenomenon.

As it turns out, Kari had discovered what he termed to be the glymphatic system — the division of the lymphatic system that exists as “glia” cells in the brain.

The Glymphatic System

As it turns out, the glymphatic system may have major implications for degenerative diseases. It’s possible that Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s diseases could be effected by dysfunction in the glymphatic system. A dysfunctional lymphatic system can lead to a buildup of toxins and waste in the body — and a dysfunctional glymphatic system may lead to a buildup of toxins in the brain.

Early studies at Yale and Oregon Health & Science University suggest that a functioning glymphatic system is essential to a healthy brain. Harvard has shown that glymphatic flow is decreased right before a migraine. Research has also shown that the glymphatic system works best when we are asleep, and that sleeping on your side is better than sleeping on your stomach or back.

 

It’s clear that this revolutionary anatomical discovery will have major impact for clinical therapies for all kinds of neurodegenerative diseases. Read the full article from the Washington Post here, and make sure to subscribe to our blog for the latest news and events across the biotech world.

Alzheimer’s PET Scan – US National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center

Lipids Take the Lead in Metastasis

Although metastasis is the leading cause of death among people with cancer, for the most part, researchers are stumped about which molecular signals allow malignant cells to leave primary tumors and start new ones. Two studies published in Nature this month highlight roles in metastasis for an unexpected group of molecules—lipids.

Read at The Scientist

Another DNA Vaccine for Zika Shows Promise

A preventive DNA vaccine encoding two Zika structural proteins protected Rhesus macaques from viral infection. The results, published today (September 22) in Science, are encouraging for organizers of the ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial testing one of the two vaccines examined in this nonhuman primate study. The new work suggests a minimal antibody level in the blood that is likely necessary for protection against Zika virus infection in in people.

Read at The Scientist

Toward Preventing Transplant Rejection with Immunologically Matched Stem Cells

Donor stem cell–derived retinal epithelial cells whose immune proteins correspond to those of a recipient are tolerated following transplant into monkeys’ eyes, according to a report published today (September 15) in Stem Cell Reports. In an accompanying paper, the team also reports that such immune-matched retinal cells derived from humans prevent immune responses in cultured human lymphocytes.

Read at The Scientist