Stony Brook researchers build on U of R Alzheimer’s research

In August of last year, we reported on the recent discovery of a “Glymphatic Pathway,” which is essentially a waste-disposal system for the brain. This system, discovered by Jeffrey Iliff and Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester, mirrors the role of the lymphatic system in other organs of the body. The system removes waste proteins from the brain and the effective running of this system, scientists believe, is the difference between a healthy brain and one with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Building on that research, boffins at the University of Stony Brook used tracing elements and MRI scanning to trace the entire glymphatic system, from the back of the brain to the nasal cavity, to better understand the pathway and what a damaged one might look like:

This advanced imaging technique has the potential to be used as a way to monitor the human brain to map brain waste clearance and access (sic) disease susceptibility. Theoretically, if clinicians were able to capture a defect in the glymphatic system where certain channels are malfunctioning, plaque formation would likely accelerate, Benveniste says.

This plaque buildup may be an early sign of disease susceptibility before evidence of any cognitive changes. Though there is no known way to repair malfunctions in the glymphatic system, the research team is investigating ways to repair or open malfunctioning channels.

Mapping out this system is part of a wider effort to understand “white matter” in the neurological system.