Understanding removal of brain fluid provides avenue for Alzheimer’s treatment

10 November 2017

Researchers in Switzerland have investigated the way fluid is removed from around the brain. Finding a new pathway for its removal, their work may signal a paradigm shift in how scientists think about this process and could have future implications for tackling Alzheimer’s disease. The findings are published today in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Dr Carol Routledge, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK said:

“The brain is protected from damage by a protective fluid that lines the inside the skull. Fluid around the brain is constantly renewed and removed from the skull, and scientists believe this allows for the removal of proteins and other debris that have the potential to harm the brain. This intricate study suggests that most of the fluid that bathes the brain is lost through the lymphatic vessels, challenging previous views on this process.

“Although the study was carried out in mice, the results are intriguing, and it will be interesting to see if the research holds true in humans and whether this drainage process could play a role in diseases like Alzheimer’s.

“Investigating this process for brain fluid removal has the potential to improve our understanding of how proteins involved in Alzheimer’s are cleared from the brain and could open the door for research into treatments to boost this process.

“Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, affecting half a million people in the UK, but current treatments aren’t able to slow or stop the course of the disease. Investment in research is vital so that scientists can build on interesting new findings like these and explore how they could inform the search for new ways to help people living with diseases like Alzheimer’s.”