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ERC Consolidator Grant - Translational aspects of the discovery of skull marrow-meninges connections (CALVARIA)

  • Project leader: Dr. Ali Ertürk
  • Affiliation: Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research (ISD)
  • Funding: 2020 to 2025

Project descriotion:

Molecular biologist Ali Ertürk has developed a novel imaging technique with which to study the complex network of nerve cells in the brain, and the chronic alterations precipitated by damage due to physical trauma, strokes or natural aging processes. The methodology has already led to a number of new insights. One of these is his discovery of what are now called skull-meninges connections (SMCs), which physically link the marrow of the bones that form the roof of the skull (the skullcap or ‘calvaria’) with the meninges (the membranes that cover the underlying neural cells). These connections enable immune cells to migrate into the brain, which suggests that they could play a role in diverse brain disorders that are associated with neuroinflammation. With his ERC project CALVARIA (Translational Aspects of the Discovery of Skull-Meninges Connections) Ertürk wants to find ways to suppress chronic neuroinflammation, which is a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases including dementias. The fact that the skullcap is more accessible than the neural tissues of the brain itself might provide novel routes for the targeted introduction of drugs – such as anti-inflammatory agents, for instance – into the brain. Moreover, it is conceivable that the calvaria could provide easier and earlier access to biomarkers that reveal the presence and progression of pathological conditions in the brain. However, the structures and properties of the cells that make up the SMCs and the calvaria are still largely unknown, and the same holds for their possible contributions to neuropathology. The purpose of Ertürk’s ERC Project is to shed further light on these issues.