Edinburgh Brain and Tissue Bank

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Centre for Molecular Medicine

Abstract

Scientific research ultimately aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the public. To achieve this we need to understand the mechanisms of disease such that we may try to develop new treatments. Diseases of the nervous system in particular cause considerable suffering not just to the individual but also to the carers. To better understand disease processes requires the study of animal models, to try and work out the mechanisms of a disease, and then translation of these mechanisms to the human setting. It is in this translation that collected human material, obtained at autopsy with the full consent of the next of kin, is invaluable. It is through the donation of tissues to scientific research that some carers are able to achieve peace of mind that some good may come from the death of a family member. Brain tissue has been collected for many years from cases of long-term neurological diseases such as dementia and multiple sclerosis, and Edinburgh is an internationally recognised centre in prion brain banking. In the setting of sudden death, where the bereavement is often felt more acutely due to the unexpectedness of the death and often due to the young age of the individuals involved, donating tissues to scientific research has previously not been an option available to the next of kin. The MRC funded Edinburgh brain and tissue bank provides this opportunity. Although many individuals dying suddenly may have no neurological disease at the time of death, their tissues can provide valuable information when compared to brain of an individual with established neurological disease. This control function of normal brain tissue is essential to investigation of all brain disorders and is as important as getting access to tissue from brain disorders. In addition, conditions which are rarely encountered in the hospital autopsy environment are seen in the setting of sudden death, particularly psychiatric cases, and cases related to addiction (drugs and alcohol).

Technical Summary

This application relates to the centralisation of existing brain banks within Edinburgh currently funded by MRC. We have put in place a mechanism which allows the collection of central nervous system (CNS) and other tissue samples from medico-legal and hospital post mortems with the knowledge and full support of the Scottish Executive, the Scottish Crown Office and the Procurators Fiscal in Edinburgh, and from CJD autopsies. This provides an ethically approved resource of human post mortem CNS tissue samples for use by the wider scientific community. The bank will concentrate on tissues derived from sudden death to maximise tissue quality, covering all ages, and from CJD autopsies. The sudden death tissue can serve a number of roles including the provision of age-matched controls for other research groups, particularly a very successful collaboration with Professor John Hardy. In addition the bank will store tissues from hard to get disorders, including psychiatric cases and drug addiction, and from disorders which reflect the applicants particular research interests. Where required non-CNS tissues can be banked in response to specific requests from researchers. This bank will provide a unique resource and will address recognised tissue needs within the research community.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title MRC Brain Bank database 
Description This is a national brain bank database allowing neuroscience researchers an east access point to assess availability of human brain tissues throughout the UK 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Standardised approach to basic neuropathological data stored across UK Brain Bank Network 
URL https://brainbanknetwork.cse.bris.ac.uk
 
Description Developing brain bank for Alzheimer Scotland 
Organisation Alzheimer Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have brought the brain bank infrastructure to support brain banking around a well defined dementia cohort, on a national basis.
Collaborator Contribution Alzheimer Scotland fund the clinical cohort and provide funding for a brain bank technician
Impact None at this stage
Start Year 2012
 
Description Key provider of human tissue to genome profiling group 
Organisation University College London
Department Institute of Neurology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Supply of age matched control human brain tissue
Collaborator Contribution Has helped develop a more robust standardised sampling protocol for brain examination and storage.
Impact A number of publications have been submitted.
Start Year 2008
 
Description UK Brain Bank Network 
Organisation King's College London
Department Neuropathology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All four centres have collaborated to develop a unified approach to human brain banking covering a range of human brain disorders
Collaborator Contribution Standardisation of protocols and diagnostic procedures
Impact National brain bank database allowing researchers to access a wide range of brain regions from brain disorders
Start Year 2010
 
Description UK Brain Bank Network 
Organisation Newcastle University
Department School of Neuroscience Newcastle
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All four centres have collaborated to develop a unified approach to human brain banking covering a range of human brain disorders
Collaborator Contribution Standardisation of protocols and diagnostic procedures
Impact National brain bank database allowing researchers to access a wide range of brain regions from brain disorders
Start Year 2010
 
Description UK Brain Bank Network 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Neuropathology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All four centres have collaborated to develop a unified approach to human brain banking covering a range of human brain disorders
Collaborator Contribution Standardisation of protocols and diagnostic procedures
Impact National brain bank database allowing researchers to access a wide range of brain regions from brain disorders
Start Year 2010
 
Description Ministerial (Scotland) review of dementia funding 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meeting with Health minister (Westminster) being arranged to look at access to research funds (NIHR) in Scotland

Ongoing
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Public lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Discussions developed amongst carers and professionals, around teh concept and value of brain banking

Increased interest in brain banking from carers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description UK Dementia Research: Addressing the Global Challenge 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Discussion around how brain banking can support drug development in the pharmaceutical industry.

Notes of interest from pharmaceutical companies in using human brain banks
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012