Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Human Brain Research Made Easier by Database

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers will be able to access samples from more than 7,000 donated human brains to help study major brain diseases, thanks to a new on-line database, launched by the MRC.

The UK Brain Banks Network database speeds up access to donated brain samples held across 10 brain banks in the UK and allows researchers studying Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and a range of other neurodegenerative and developmental diseases to track down human tissue samples for their work.
Thanks to a unique collaboration between the MRC and five leading charities, the database will help scientists from academia and industry investigate the underlying causes of major brain diseases and understand how they take hold in our bodies.
Although scientists can model diseases in the lab, to fully understand dementia and other brain-related disorders they need to study human brain tissue. A lot of research relies on donated brain tissue stored in brain banks across the UK. Until today, researchers had to apply to each brain bank in turn to find out if they held the samples they needed and find the ‘control’ samples (donated brains free from disease) for comparison – a long and drawn out process. Now samples can be found with the click of a button from one source.
Professor James Ironside, Director of the MRC UK Brain Banks Network, said:
“The database is the result of four years of painstaking planning and data analysis by very dedicated people. It will enable quick and easy access for researchers who are already working on neurological or psychiatric disease (perhaps in animal models or cells) and would like to translate their findings into human tissue and is very useful for those who are planning a grant application. The brain banks have already been given ethical approval, cutting out the need for researchers to go through a separate ethics application.
We must remember that vital research would not be possible without the generosity of those individuals who donate their brains to medical research. We’re working hard to make sure that the access for researchers studying brain samples is much easier. The next step is to improve the systems for those wishing to donate their brain to medical research.”
Five leading charities helped to supply data for the database; the MS Society, Parkinson's UK, Alzheimer's Society, Alzheimer's Research UK and Autistica.
Dr Susan Kohlhass, Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society, said:
“This is a fantastic initiative that we’re proud to be a part of. Working together in this coordinated way will ensure that researchers have better access to human tissue which will benefit MS research and ultimately the lives of people with MS.”
Professor Paul Francis, Director of Brains for Dementia Research which is funded by Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Research UK, in association with the Medical Research Council, said:

”Finding better treatments and ultimately a cure is the holy grail of dementia research. This new online database is another step forward which will ensure that even more researchers are able to make the most of these valuable resources. Without the generosity of people willing to pledge to donate their brains, this research would not be possible and our hopes of transforming the lives of people with dementia would be unattainable.”
Dr Kieran Breen, Director of Research and Innovation at Parkinson’s UK, said:
"It's vital that every person who makes the amazing decision to donate their brain knows that their tissue will be used in the most effective way possible. This new brain tissue database will make research into brain conditions like Parkinson's easier, faster and more effective - and bring us closer to what all our donors and their families want most, a cure for the condition."
Christine Swabey, CEO, Autistica, said:
“Post-mortem tissue research plays an essential role in helping us to understand autism and other complex neurological conditions. We are always deeply moved and motivated by this gift people give to improve lives in future generations.”.
Lorna Hall, brain donor, said:
“As the sister of someone with autism, it is important to me that I contribute to research in any way I can. When my own life has ended, donating my brain means that I can still contribute to research that will improve the lives of others - people like my brother and families like mine.”

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

MRC Invests £32M to Improve Data Research
Investment will improve capability, capacity and capital infrastructure in medical bioinformatics.
Friday, February 07, 2014
Scientific News
Groundbreaking Computer Program Diagnoses Cancer in Two Days
Researchers have combined genetics with computer science and created a new diagnostic technology can with 85 per cent certainty identify the source of the disease and thus target treatment and, ultimately, improve the prognosis for the patient.
Scientists Create World’s Largest Catalog of Human Genomic Variation
An international team of scientists from the 1000 Genomes Project Consortium has created the world’s largest catalog of genomic differences among humans, providing researchers with powerful clues to help them establish why some people are susceptible to various diseases.
New Autism Genes Are Revealed in Largest-Ever Study
Work draws more detailed picture of genetic risk, sheds light on sex differences in diagnosis.
Influenza A Viruses More Likely To Emerge In East Asia Than North America
Novel strains of influenza A are more likely to emerge in East Asia than in North America, according to a global analysis by the One Health Institute at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and EcoHealth Alliance.
Bone Risks Linked to Genetic Variants
A large-scale genomic study uncovered novel genetic variants and led researchers to an unexpected gene that affects bone density and fracture risk.
The Final Word on STAP
Researchers fail to replicate STAP study; computational analysis reveals genomic inconsistency.
Study Adds to Evidence That Viruses Are Alive
A new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells, researchers report.
CSI -- On The Metabolite's Trail
Bioinformaticians at the University of Jena make the most efficient search engine for molecular structures available online.
Potential Ovarian Cancer Biomarker Isolated
Researchers from North Carolina State University utilized a highly sensitive mass spectrometry analysis to identify and measure difficult-to-detect N-glycan biomarkers associated with ovarian cancers in stages I – IV.
Smartphone App to Monitor Serious Blood Disorder
A researcher from Florida Atlantic University has come up with a unique way to monitor sickle cell disease -- a serious blood disorder -- using a smart phone.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos