Why is brain donation for research needed?
The brain is the most complex organ in the body. Though it is possible to study a living brain using ever-sophisticated imaging techniques, many diseases remain poorly understood and much of current research in brain disease still requires laboratory studies of donated human brain tissue.
Unlike many other organs in the body where routine operations regularly provide surplus tissue for research, surgery on patients with brain disease typically produces only very small amounts of tissue, with much of this needed to make a diagnosis. As a result, post-mortem donation of brain tissue remains very important to support research in diseases of the brain.
Researchers have become increasingly aware that for many patients surviving traumatic brain injury, such as might occur in a car crash or as a result of a fall or in former athletes from a range of contact sports, this can alter lifelong risk of a variety of illnesses, including risk of dementia.
Access to post-mortem human brain tissue has been crucial in helping researchers recognise the link between a brain injury and degenerative brain disease. However, we are still some way from understanding why this happens, and how treatments might be developed for patients with brain injury to prevent this happening
Glasgow Traumatic Brain Injury Archive
The Glasgow TBI Archive is comprised of materials from TBI patients across a range of ages from infants to elderly.
This unique archive includes material from:
- Over 2000 case of single or repetitive TBI as paraffin wax blocks sampled from immersion fixed whole brain specimens
- Approximately 50 TBI cases as snap-frozen fresh tissue samples
- An extensive archive of uninjured control tissue samples as paraffin tissue blocks and snap-frozen tissue
- Over 1200 DNA samples from patients in ongoing clinical studies in TBI
Each case has been meticulously gathered using standardised sampling protocols. All specimens are linked to fully anonymised demographic data and relevant clinical information – which includes details on injury, cause of death , postmortem interval and neuropathological findings. The causes of TBI include, but are not limited to, falls, road traffic accidents, assaults and sports-associated TBI.
The influence of the Glasgow TBI archive can be traced through the literature on the neuropathology of human TBI, with in excess of 150 peer-reviewed publications derived from observations on material from this resource. This includes landmark and continued observations on axonal injury and neurodegeneration after TBI.
The Glasgow TBI Archive has broad and enduring ethical approval for use in scientific research under the governance arrangements of the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board Bio-repository.