While most biological systems use the lymphatic system to remove waste, the central nervous system uses something called the glymphatic system, which “cleans the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that surround the brain and spinal cord and relies on specialized CNS support cells known as glia.” Helene Benveniste at Stony Brook University used a fluorescent tracer in rats, and tracked it with an MRI scan. This study has identified “two key influx nodes” in the brain. The team was able to measure the rate at which the glymphatic system removed the fluorescent tracer.
Warren Strittmatter at Duke University has been running similar tests, using the tracer and MRIs to keep an eye on diseases that occur within the proteins.
The next step in the research is to visualize the accumulation of molecules that occur in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.