Brian Lee Diamond Bar Highschool 12th Grade
Recently, researchers have actually discovered the process in which water travels from the blood to the brain through observations and studies of mice.
Previously, only the structure by which water travels from the blood to the brain was known. This structure is the plexus choroideus whose primary purpose is to produce cerebrospinal fluid that protects the brain.
The speculated means of travel was a process called osmosis where fluids pass through a semi-permeable membrane in order to balance the concentration of fluids on both sides. However, the required conditions for osmosis to occur were not present in the environment of the brain.
This caused the researchers to rule out osmosis and lead them to focus on an ion known as NKCC1. This further inquiry lead to a discovery of a lifetime as researchers assert that the means of travel of water from the blood to the brain is through the movement of this ion.
There is a plethora of applications of this newfound knowledge as being able to control the NKCC1 ion would allow doctors to control the flow of fluid to the brain. This discovery is important because it provides a method for fluid draining of the cranium and spinal cord without invasive procedures.
Neuroscientist Nanna MacAuley stated, “It would be ground-breaking if we were able to use this mechanism as a target for medical treatment and turn down the inflow of water to the brain to reduce intracranial pressure.” The invasive procedure of implanting a shunt is practiced on current patients of hydrocephalus who suffer from a buildup of fluid on their brains and spinal cords. This creates an increase of pressure within the region of the brain and spinal cord.
By being able to control the flow of fluid to the brain, doctors would be able to reduce the pressure inside the brain and spinal cord area by reducing the amount of transported fluid without having to undertake an invasive procedure such as planting a shunt within the affected area.
<Brian Lee Diamond Bar Highschool 12th Grade