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New Autism Brain Bank In Works

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A new multi-site network will launch this fall to collect brain samples for autism research in an effort to accelerate understanding of the developmental disorder.

The network known as Autism BrainNet will be an expansion of Autism Speaks’ Autism Tissue Program and will be the first such initiative to have sites across the country dedicated to acquiring, processing, storing and distributing brain tissue, organizers said.

Scientists say studying brain samples is the best way to understand autism, but such specimens are in short supply. The need for donations became even more urgent last year when a freezer malfunction at a Massachusetts brain bank left one-third of the world’s largest collection of autism brain samples unusable, though backers say the network set to launch later this year was already in the works when the failure occurred.

The new brain bank is being established by Autism Speaks and the Simons Foundation. Initial sites will be located at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the University of California, Davis MIND Institute and the University of Texas at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, with more locations domestically and internationally expected, organizers said.

“Brain donation is a difficult subject for many and takes courage to discuss, but experiments on human brain tissue are now the very best way forward in attempts to improve the quality of life of those on the autism spectrum,” said Gerald D. Fischbach, scientific director of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative.

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Comments (8 Responses)

  1. KA101 says:

    OK, good, they’re listening when we say that we’re looking for improved quality/life rather than cures.

    How mucking about with our brains will achieve that, though, seems less-than-clear. I’ll continue to believe that this is cure research under a different flag.

  2. VMGILLEN says:

    Are any of these labs subject to the 5% sequester? No point in storing anything tile we get past the possibility of 72 minutes a day with no power, staff, etc…

  3. PBMom says:

    They want living tissue samples, or donations of brains like organ donations?

  4. Whitney says:

    We are tired of being treated as third class citizens. I would rather see results before to say they are listening to us.

  5. Whitney says:

    Lobotomy is still a Lobotomy, It is our brains and yeah this supposedly a modern era that practicing new form of medieval medicines, If your so gung ho taking brain tissue do it yourself.

  6. F. Dang says:

    I’m glad that this is occurring. Since Autism is a neurological disorder it will be beneficial for professionals and lay people to understand how this neurological disorder functions. So far it appears, found through brain tissue studies, the cerebellum is involved. This controls coordination of motor movements. This part receives input from the sensory system and helps with motor. Brain tissues studies of individuals also show that there is a lessening of the amount of Perkinje cells. These cells help transmit information from one part of the brain to another part, such as the Frontal Lobes, where organization skills, as well as other skills, are developed. The Frontal Lobes control the Executive Functions of the individual. It will be helpful for the professionals to understand to develop treatment for the individuals with Autism.

  7. KA101 says:

    Pretty confident that it’s organ-donations they’re looking for, and I don’t plan on donating mine, dead or alive. Agreed that this is likely just camouflage for the same ol’ drug/cure research.

  8. Whitney says:

    I noticed something I did not get before. This bank is supported by Autism Speaks, In all my dealing with this particular group I find that Autism Speak rare spoke for people with Autism. The group sole purpose to cure autism as if some form leprosy. If this brain tissue came from ASAN which does speak in some part people with autism. Then it might have merit.

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