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A new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests that the brain's lymphatic vessels play a major role in the progression and development of multiple sclerosis. The vessels carry unknown messages from the brain to the immune system that ultimately trigger the disease symptoms. Thus, according to the researchers blocking those messages may offer doctors a new way to treat multiple sclerosis that affects more than 2 million people.
According to the Science Daily report, UVA researchers discovered this new idea in the lab and have identified that the lymphatic vessels surrounding the brain, vessels that textbooks long insisted did not exist. In an exciting follow-up, the researchers have determined that the vessels play an important role in many other neuroinflammatory diseases and in dangerous brain infections, not only multiple sclerosis.
A researcher Antoine Louveau, PhD, of UVA's Department of Neuroscience and its Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG) reportedly said that their data suggests that there is a signal coming from the brain to the lymph nodes that tells immune cells to get back into the brain, causing the (multiple sclerosis) pathologies. It is worth exploring the role of these vessels in different neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis.
At UVA, the researchers led by Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, were able to obstruct the development of multiple sclerosis in mice by targeting the lymphatic vessels surrounding the brain. To block the lymphatics or destroy them with a precision laser, they used multiple strategies.
UVA's new research offers important insight into the function and role of the lymphatic vessels that connect the brain to the immune system. But the lab's recent research also highlights the complexity doctors face when trying to manipulate the vessels to benefit human health.
The chairman of UVA's Department of Neuroscience and director of the BIG Center, Kipnis reportedly said that these findings on the role of brain-draining lymphatic vessels in MS, together with their recent work on the role in Alzheimer's disease, demonstrate that the brain and the immune system closely interact. When these interactions go out of control, pathologies emerge. The idea that they could target major neurological disorders through therapeutic manipulation of peripheral structures, such as lymphatic vessels, is beyond exciting. Through their collaboration with PureTech Health, they hope to bring these laboratory findings to improve patients' lives one day.
To explore the potential clinical applications of his discoveries, Kipnis recently signed a deal with biopharmaceutical company PureTech Health.
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