Researchers once believed that the central nervous system did not have lymphatic vessels. But in 2015, the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG), led by Jonathan Kipnis, discovered something that would change how we look at neurological diseases. They found lymphatic vessels inside the meninges layer of the brain, which help clean and drain the organ.
The beauty of this discovery is that in the future these lymphatic vessels may be able to serve as therapeutic targets for disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and autism.
A Collaborative Effort
Research scientists who helped to uncover this major development credit the collaborative spirit of UVA for helping to drive the research forward. “We all have our own specialties,” said Antoine Louveau, a postdoctoral fellow in Kipnis’ lab and the first research scientist to notice the lymphatic vessels in the brain. “But when you start talking to people who are outside of your field and outside of the thing that you normally do, they are going to come up with ideas and techniques that you can apply to your own system and that is going to help bring the research forward.”
Since the original discovery, Kipnis’ lab has also found that the immune system may actually control social interaction as well. This research may have large implications for even more neurological conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.
Watch to learn more about this major discovery and the collaborative effort at UVA.