Would you like to help research into MS, but don’t have MS yourself? The MS Research Australia Brain Bank has recently received ethics clearance to start collecting tissues from people without MS and we welcome enquiries about tissue donations from anyone.
By comparing the brain and spinal cords from people with MS to people without MS, researchers can better understand MS and speed up finding a cure for this disease.
The MS Research Australia Brain Bank has been operating since 2008, and has built up a large collection of tissues from people with MS specifically for use in MS research. Experts in MS identify and classify MS lesions in the donated tissue. This carefully classified, high quality tissue is then made available for researchers in Australia and around the world to use to answer research questions about the biology of MS that cannot be resolved in any other way.
For example, this valuable tissue has opened the door to an exciting international collaboration. Dr Kai-Hei Tse from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology will be travelling to and collaborating with researchers at the University of Sydney. They will be investigating damage to the DNA in the cells of the brain and spinal cord in tissues donated from people with MS. The researchers believe that this damage may contribute to the failure of the myelin to regrow after an attack of MS.
Other researchers are trying to identify the factors in the brain which promote the regrowth of myelin and nerve cells and to determine why these processes fail as MS progresses. Other researchers are using donated brain tissue to study the interactions between genetic and environmental factors that could underpin MS onset and progression and are looking for corresponding biomarkers to develop safe and simple tests for use in the clinic.
To make the most out of the tissue donated from people with MS, tissue from people without MS needs to be processed in an identical way. Here at the MS Research Australia Brain Bank we are in need of tissues from people without MS to begin this work.
In New South Wales and Queensland, tissues donated to the MS Research Australia Brain Bank will be used specifically for research into MS. People from other states can donate their tissues to their state based brain bank, and whilst this tissue will be used for many important areas of research, we cannot guarantee that this tissue will be used for MS research.
The decision to donate tissue after your death can provide an important legacy for people diagnosed with MS world-wide. To find out more about the MS Research Australia Brain Bank, phone 1300 672 265 or visit www.msbrainbank.org.au.