Research on the Brain’s Detox System

Bonn Neurologist Involved in Transatlantic Research Consortium on Brain Clearance

Bonn, August, 17th, 2023. Prof. Gabor Petzold, a neuroscientist at DZNEand University Hospital Bonn (UKB), is part of a new US and European network of excellence funded by the Leducq Foundation with a total of US$ 8 million. Of this, about US$ 400,000 go to Bonn. The consortium will investigate the role of so-called brain clearance in cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). This condition is a major cause of hemorrhagic stroke, as well as an important factor in certain forms of dementia. As the population ages, CAA is on the rise. Effective disease-modifying interventions do not yet exist, so it is hoped that this network of excellence will lead to new therapeutic approaches in the long term.

In a healthy individual, the brain’s waste removal system works automatically during sleep, flushing out toxins and waste products of brain metabolism by transporting these out of the brain along the blood vessels. But a malfunction of this brain clearance can lead to an accumulation of harmful substances in the brain and dysfunctions in neurons, thus promoting the development of neurodegenerative diseases. For example, there is evidence that a defective disposal of waste products – including a protein called “amyloid” – play an important role in the development of CAA. “But there are still unanswered questions about how this process works,” says Prof. Gabor Petzold, head of UKB's Vascular Neurology Department and research group leader at DZNE. “Deciphering the mechanisms involved in brain clearance will improve the understanding of CAA and thus other neurodegenerative diseases.”

Hope for more Insights into Brain Clearance and CAA

The new consortium intends to apply research findings to healthcare in a translational approach and to investigate ways of eliminating amyloid deposition in CAA. To this end, the involved scientists aim to establish a better understanding of brain clearance along blood vessels as well as of CAA, and to transfer experimental findings from rodent models to the human brain. In addition, relevant driving forces of these processes are to be identified and tested in patient studies to improve the brain’s waste disposal.

The consortium is expected to officially begin work on Jan. 1, 2024. It includes researchers from the U.S. and Europe:


  • Matthias VAN OSCH, Leiden University Medical Center (Netherlands)
  • Susanne VAN VELUW, Massachusetts General Hospital (USA)


  • Erik BAKKER, Amsterdam University Medical Center (Netherlands)
  • Helene BENVENISTE, Yale University (USA)
  • Roxana CARARE, University of Southampton (UK)
  • Steven GREENBERG, Massachusetts General Hospital (USA)
  • Jeffrey ILIFF, University of Washington (USA)
  • Sylvie LORTHOIS, Institut de Mécanique des Fluides de Toulouse (France)
  • Gabor PETZOLD, Universitätsklinikum Bonn (UKB) & Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen (DZNE) (Germany)
  • Andy SHIH, University of Washington (USA)
  • William VAN NOSTRAND, University of Rhode Island Foundation (USA)

About the Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen, DZNE (German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases): DZNE is a research institute funded by the German federal and state governments, comprising ten sites across Germany. It is dedicated to diseases of the brain and nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS, which are associated with dementia, movement disorders and other serious health impairments. To date, there are no cures for these diseases, which represent an enormous burden for countless affected individuals, their families, and the healthcare system. The aim of DZNE is to develop novel strategies for prevention, diagnosis, care, as well as treatment, and to transfer them into practice. To this end, DZNE cooperates with universities, university hospitals, research centers and other institutions in Germany and abroad. The institute is a member of the Helmholtz Association and belongs to the German Centers for Health Research.

About the University Hospital Bonn: The UKB cares for about 500,000 patients per year, employs 9,000 people and has a balance sheet total of 1.6 billion euros. In addition to the more than 3,300 medical and dental students, a further 585 people are trained each year in numerous healthcare professions. The UKB is ranked number one among university hospitals in NRW in the science ranking as well as in the Focus clinic list and has the third highest case mix index (case severity index) in Germany.

Media relations

Dr. Marcus Neitzert
+49 228 43302-267

Joint press release

Welcome to our website, here you can inform yourself basically cookie-free.

We would be pleased if you would allow a cookie to be set for analysis purposes in order to optimise our provided information. All data are pseudonymous and are only used by the DZNE. We deliberately avoid third-party cookies. You can deselect this setting at any time here.

Your browser allows the setting of cookies: