Prestigious European grant to Professor Maiken Nedergaard – University of Copenhagen

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07 April 2017

Prestigious European grant to Professor Maiken Nedergaard

ERC Advanced Grant

The European Research Council has awarded the coveted ERC Advanced Grant to Professor Maiken Nedergaard. The grant will be used for research in macular degeneration and the relationship with the brain waste clearance system in the brain, the glymphatic system.

Exceptional research findings within the past ten years, a high degree of originality in the approach to research and an extraordinary activity in internationally recognised journals. These are some of the qualities which are important to the European Research Council when awarding its coveted and prestigious ERC Advanced Grants. And the very qualities that ensured Professor Maiken Nedergaard, Center for Neuroscience, the prestigious grant of EUR 2.5 million covering a five-year period.

The grant will be used on a new macular degeneration research project.

"We are looking forward to conducting research into the eye, which is actually a part of the brain. Just like the brain, the eye produces its own fluid and has no lymphatics. Up until now, it has been the general belief that the eye's fluid runs out in front of the eye, but we have found that a part of the fluid runs back along the optical nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Our experiments with mice show that the fluid transport is activity-driven and increases when the light is turned on. There is a need for more research, as it is a completely new area, which the new grant will support

Professor Maiken Nedergaard

“We are looking forward to conducting research into the eye, which is actually a part of the brain. Just like the brain, the eye produces its own fluid and has no lymphatics. Up until now, it has been the general belief that the eye's fluid runs out in front of the eye, but we have found that a part of the fluid runs back along the optical nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Our experiments with mice show that the fluid transport is activity-driven and increases when the light is turned on. There is a need for more research, as it is a completely new area, which the new grant will support,” Professor Maiken Nedergaard says.

Relationship with the glymphatic system
Maiken Nedergaard has made a name for herself internationally within brain research by discovering the glymphatic system, which – generally speaking – serves the role of brain waste clearance system when we sleep. Brain fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, is rinsed through the brain appropriately during sleep and removes the waste products that accumulate when we are awake. One of the important waste products is amyloid, which contributes to dementia diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Her research shows that the brain accumulates amyloid during disturbed sleep, because the glymphatic system does not remove it.  

Professor Maiken Nedergaard

An important part of the new project will be to examine whether macular degeneration can be caused by the eye's glymphatic system not functioning optimally. Here amyloid accumulates and contributes to the death of nerve cells in the eye.

"We will study whether macular degeneration can be compared with Alzheimer’s disease and is caused by reduced glymphatic clearance

Professor Maiken Nedergaard

“We will study whether macular degeneration can be compared with Alzheimer’s disease and is caused by reduced glymphatic clearance,” Professor Maiken Nedergaard says and adds that Alexander P. Thrane, ophthalmologist at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, will participate in the project. 

Contact: 
Professor Maiken Nedergaard, Email: nedergaard@sund.ku.dk, Phone: +45 93 56 53 13
Pressekoordinator Kristine Snedker, Email: kristine.snedker@sund.ku.dk, Phone: +45 23 64 88 42