What are the scientific aims of BrainGates?
The brain is an immune privileged organ devoid of conventional lymphatic vessels. It contains fluid drainage pathways, the function of which is impaired in Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral amyloid angiopathy and stroke, thereby having an impact on cognitive function and neuroinflammatory reactions. These drainage pathways are at the interface between the peripheral and the brain immune systems contributing to the intensive crosstalk between these two separated immune systems. The interactions of the central nervous system interstitial and cerebrospinal fluid drainage pathways have remained unknown most likely due to a lack of high resolution imaging techniques. Recent live imaging of the lymphatic drainage from the brain into the deep cervical lymph nodes have prompted the reassessment of the anatomical routes and molecular mechanisms involved in movement of brain fluids. Using both rodent and humanized induced pluripotent stem cell based systems, BrainGates will employ an interdisciplinary combination of cutting-edge in vitro and in vivo imaging techniques to clarify transport pathways, function and therapeutic potential of brain fluids and their impact on brain-peripheral immune crosstalk thereby allowing to correct existing textbook information.
Through an integrated and diverse research training program in neuro- and vascular biology, immunology, stem cell biology, cellular trafficking within the brain and the periphery and translational medicine, BrainGates will set the stage for discovering new biomarkers, novel, safe targets for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and for understanding how the barriers of the brain can best be bridged or protected as dictated by therapeutic need.