“I really did not believe there are structures in the body that we are not aware of. I thought the body was mapped. I thought that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not.”
— Kevin Lee, Ph.D., chairman of the University of Virginia’s Department of Neuroscience
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have just made a stunning new discovery.
They’ve found a direct connection between the brain and the immune system.
This connection is made by vessels that were previously thought not to exist.
These UVA researchers suggest this could overturn years of textbook teaching.
Think about that for a moment.
Modern researchers have discovered an entirely new part of the body.
On top of that, they believe it could revolutionize the study and treatment of neurological diseases.
Diseases like autism, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
In a new interview in the journal Nature, Kevin Lee described his reaction to the discovery:
“The first time these guys showed me the basic result, I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks,'” he said.
“There has never been a lymphatic system for the central nervous system,” Lee added, noting that it could “fundamentally change the way people look at the central nervous system’s relationship with the immune system.”
His colleague, Jonathan Kipnis, Ph.D., also had some interesting observations about this new discovery.
Kipnis is a professor in the UVA Department of Neuroscience and director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG).
His take …
“Instead of asking, ‘How do we study the immune response of the brain?’ ‘Why do multiple sclerosis patients have the immune attacks?’ now we can approach this mechanistically.
“Because the brain is like every other tissue connected to the peripheral immune system through meningeal lymphatic vessels.
“It changes entirely the way we perceive the neuro-immune interaction. We always perceived it before as something esoteric that can’t be studied. But now we can ask mechanistic questions,” said Kipnis.
The unexpected discovery of these lymphatic vessels that connect the brain to the immune system is noteworthy.
That’s because it could result in better treatments — and potential cures — for various neurological diseases.
For example, Alzheimer’s disease.
“In Alzheimer’s, there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain,” Kipnis said. “We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels.”
He noted that the vessels look different with age. So, the role they play in aging is another avenue to explore.
Other neurological diseases could see breakthroughs based on this discovery. Lee and Kipnis also suggest research could advance on autism and MS, among other diseases.
This is one of the biggest medical breakthroughs in recent memory. It adds to other recent discoveries that show how the body systems are all interconnected.
If you recall, a few weeks ago I wrote about the gut-brain connection. We discussed how researchers are finding more links between the health of your gut and neurological diseases.
Now, the research published in Nature shows the link between the brain and the immune system.
This trend in medical research is proving that the body is a sort of biological ecosystem — one where all systems work together.
This can allow doctors and scientists to looks at new sources of a disease — places where they previously might not have looked.
It appears science just got closer to discovering new cures for diseases we currently believe to be incurable. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to witness these kinds of advancements … and to potentially be able to benefit from them in our lifetimes.
Happy and Healthy Investing,
Uncommon Wisdom Daily