Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia Brain Bank
Director, National Multiple Sclerosis Brain Bank
T 1300 356 467 (tollfree)
Associate Professor Michael Barnett
Co-Director, Multiple Sclerosis Brain Bank
Level 7, 94 Mallett Street, Camperdown NSW 2050
T +61 2 9351 0846
F +61 2 9351 0731
Dr Michael Buckland
Co-Director, Multiple Sclerosis Brain Bank
T +61 2 9114 1148
Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia Brain Bank profile
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a devastating disease. In Australia alone, 20,000 people are living with the uncertainty of MS, and it is the most common cause of neurological disability in young adults. MS has a huge economic impact on sufferers of the disease and their carers. Although modern immunotherapy treatment is beneficial, there is no proven cure, and there is no useful treatment for people with progressive MS. This is why there is a need for continuing research into MS.
Recent research findings have led to a reevaluation of the neuropathology of MS and the need for the study of human post mortem brain tissue to continue the progress in MS research. This, along with the advances in scientific techniques that can effectively be applied to tissue that has been carefully stored, now maximises the potential for research success in discovering more about this debilitating disease.
The Multiple Sclerosis Research Austrlia (MSRA) Brain Bank, a collaboration between MS Research Australia and The University of Sydney with support from the NSW state government, was opened by the Minister for Science and Medical Research, the Honourable Verity Firth in February 2008.
The MSRA Brain Bank located at the Brain & Mind Research Institute, in conjunction with the MS Clinic and basic science laboratories, forms a hub for the different laboratories at the University of Sydney undertaking research into MS as well as for the wider MS research community. The MSRA Brain Bank recognises the privilege and responsibility of its role. It receives brain tissue from people with MS who have died, who in bequeathing their tissue for scientific research are making a final gift to others with the disease.
We see the Australian MSRA Brain Bank as owned by people with MS and their families. Our brief role as custodians of the tissue for donors and their families is to make certain it will be of most use to scientists working on MS, so that their gift will lead to a cure for others.
Frequently asked questions
I’m already an organ donor. Do I need to register again as a brain donor?
Yes. Brain donation for MS research is separate from organs (such as kidney or liver) donated for transplantation. You need to register with the MSRA Brain Bank and complete the state-specific consent form to become a brain donor for MS research.
I live in rural Australia. Can my brain be collected fast enough?
Yes. Although timing and distance are sometimes are an obstacle to retrieving tissue within 24 hours, in many cases we can arrange for brain donation to occur at a nearby regional hospital so this should not deter you from becoming a donor.
What if my Next of Kin doesn’t give consent for my brain donation?
Consent from your senior available Next of Kin (spouse, child, parent, or sibling) is usually required before brain donation can take place. Ideally, they need to support your decision to donate since they are the person who will contact us after your death.
A successful brain donation relies on a great deal of coordination and cooperation between many parties to help minimize the post-mortem interval or PMI, the time period from death to when the brain (and other consented tissues) are properly preserved and stored in the Brain Bank. A brain with a PMI of 6 hours is immensely more valuable to MS research than one with a PMI of 24 hours, since key molecules in the brain, such as proteins, degrade very rapidly after death.
One way of ensuring the shortest possible PMI is for the donor’s Next of Kin (or carer at the hospital or nursing home) to notify the Brain Bank Coordinator in your state immediately at the time of death (or as soon as it is known that death of a person with MS is imminent). The Brain Bank Coordinator can then set in place all the necessary procedures for the most rapid retrieval of tissues.