Fluid flow in the brain: Sorting the good and the bad
Ian Kimbrough, an assistant professor in the School of Neuroscience, specializing in live in vivo imaging, Dr. Kimbrough uses multi-channel multi-photon laser scanning microscopy to investigate cerebral vasculature biology and pathology in various neurological disease models, including brain tumors and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Glioblastoma, which is what John McCain had, is one of the more deadly diseases,” Kimbrough said. “Like Alzheimer’s disease, with our current standard of care, there’s not much we can do once it’s diagnosed.”
Munson, an associate professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, specializes in how the fluid surrounding a tumor moves, particularly brain tumors. She came to Virginia Tech from the University of Virginia two years ago as an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics in the College of Engineering, and moved her laboratory to Roanoke this summer.
“In brain cancer,” Munson explained, “that fluid flow is increased, and that increased flow can drive tumor cells to move away from the tumor.”
Those cells then form “satellite tumors,” making it nearly impossible for a surgeon to remove all the cancerous cells.
In a person with Alzheimer’s, instead of fluid flow increasing, it decreases – and scientists believe that certain proteins that cause Alzheimer’s disease accumulate instead of being carried away by the fluid.
Earlier this year, the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, extended a grant awarded to Munson for research on “Interstitial fluid flow in Alzheimer’s Disease Progression” and funded the research with an additional $250,000. Munson is the principal investigator, teaming with Kimbrough and Michelle Olsen, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the School of Neuroscience.