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New 'Brain-Cleaning' System Discovered in Mice
Date:8/15/2012

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The brain has a cleaning system that drains away waste products, a new study involving mice suggests.

Using advanced imaging technology, researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York found this previously unrecognized "glymphatic system," which they said functions in the brain under the direction of glial cells, similar to the body's lymphatic system. The researchers suggest their findings could lead to improved treatments for neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke and Parkinson's disease.

Scientists note, however, that research with animals often fails to provide similar results in humans.

"Waste clearance is of central importance to every organ, and there have been long-standing questions about how the brain gets rid of its waste," senior study author Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, co-director of the university's Center for Translational Neuromedicine, said in a school news release. "This work shows that the brain is cleansing itself in a more organized way and on a much larger scale than has been realized previously."

The study was published online Aug. 15 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The newly discovered system moves cerebrospinal fluid, which cleanses brain tissue, throughout the brain more efficiently than previously thought, the researchers said. Under pressure, the system pushes large volumes of the fluid through the brain to remove waste forcefully.

"It's as if the brain has two garbage haulers -- a slow one that we've known about, and a fast one that we've just met," Nedergaard said. "Given the high rate of metabolism in the brain, and its exquisite sensitivity, it's not surprising that its mechanisms to rid itself of waste are more specialized and extensive than previously realized."

Pumped into the brain along channels surrounding arteries, cerebrospinal fluid washes through brain t
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