Imaging and activation of glymphatic clearance: a novel strategy for Alzheimer's disease

Year of award: 2016


  • Dr Jack Wells

    University College London

Project summary

Despite the huge social, economic and emotional burden of Alzheimer’s disease, there is currently no cure. The development of effective treatments is hindered by the difficulty of accurately identifying the early phase of the disease, years before symptoms become apparent. Recent evidence has come to light from experiments performed in the rodent brain, of a previously unrecognised ‘waste removal’ system that clears excess fluid and toxins from the brain. It is thought that impairment of this pathway, known as the glymphatic system, may be a critical causal factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. However, currently this pathway cannot be measured in humans.

I will develop the first non-invasive method to image the glymphatic system using MRI, enabling assessment in the human brain for the first time. This method will be used to better understand how impairment of the glymphatic system contributes to Alzheimer’s disease and how this may be affected by the changes in properties of the brain’s blood vessels.

This proposal may lead to a new method for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and identify a new target for effective drug treatment.