June 8, 2015

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The next Nobel Medicine prizes will go to researchers at The University of Virginia. Huffington Post tells us about the stunning discovery of vessels that connect the brain to the lymphatic system.

Neuroscientists have uncovered a previously unknown direct connection between the brain and the immune system — a finding that could have significant implications for the treatment of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and autism.

The discovery came as a surprise to Dr. Kevin Lee, chairman of the University of Virginia’s neuroscience department.

“The first time these guys showed me the basic result, I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks,’” Lee said in a press release Monday.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Jonathan Kipnis of the University of Virginia’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, echoed the sentiment.

“When we discovered the lymphatic vessels we were very very surprised, because based on the textbooks — these vessels do not exist,” Kipnis said in an email to The Huffington Post. … 

… A next step of the research is to determine how the vessels might be involved in diseases involving the brain and the immune system, such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

“We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role,” Kipnis said.

Though the findings are preliminary, the researchers hope they’ll open up a number of new possibilities for treating these and other neurological disorders through therapies that target the lymphatic vessels of the brain.

For example, Kipnis explained that the findings could shed light on why large protein chunks accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. “We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels,” he said. …



More from Machines Like Us.

That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

“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,” said Jonathan Kipnis, a professor in U.Va.’s Department of Neuroscience and director of U.Va.’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia. “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.”

He added, “We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role. [It’s] hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a [neurological] disease with an immune component.”


The desire of humans to trade has many ancient markers. Science20.com reports on gold trade between Ireland and the Cornish coast as many as 2,500 years BCE. That would mean a sea voyage of over 150 miles across unfriendly waters.

Archaeologists have found evidence of an ancient gold trade route between the south-west of the UK and Ireland, which would mean people were trading gold between the two countries as far back as the early Bronze Age, 2500 B.C.

The finding was made after measuring the chemical composition of early gold artifacts in Ireland and discovering that the objects were actually made from imported gold, rather than Irish. The gold is most likely to have come from Cornwall, which means the symbiotic link between Ireland and England is even farther back then believed. …



Smithsonian has interesting trips for your bucket list. They list five sites where large meteors have hit the earth and rearranged the landscape.

Early in the morning of October 6, 2008, astronomers at the University of Arizona detected an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. When other sightings cropped up across the world, the astronomers’ suspicions were confirmed—the asteroid was going to hit our planet. It was the first time in history an asteroid had been observed before impact. Within hours, the asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere (and thus became a meteor) and broke up into tiny pieces. These fragments—known as meteorites—landed in a remote location in northern Sudan.

Luckily for Earth, this meteor wasn’t the big one that NASA scientists are warning could one day crash into our planet (and that Bruce Willis once blew up in a movie). But throughout history, meteorites have left their beautiful—if destructive—scars upon the globe. Here are some of the best places to see meteorite impact sites this summer: …


The cartoonists have some fun with Caitlyn Jenner.