Interview with Dr Teresa Wong, MS Research Australia Brain Bank
Dr Teresa Wong
My name is Dr Teresa Wong and I’m the Project Manager of the MS Research Australia Brain Bank. People with MS in Australia have the opportunity to sign up as a brain donor so that their tissue can be used by researchers to help them understand Multiple Sclerosis more, what causes it and how to find a cure for it.
It’s very important for researchers to look at human brain tissue because MS is a uniquely human disease. It doesn’t occur in other animals and MS in mice and rats are induced by people so we won’t be able to find the cause of MS in animals, so researchers can only find what causes MS by looking at people who have MS and looking at the MS lesions in the brain of people who have MS.
There are some things that even a very powerful MRI machine cannot show since researchers cannot look at the brain in a living person they can only look at tissue from a deceased patient, and they need very good quality tissue, which means the time between death and when we preserve the brain – put it in the freezer or fix it in solution – the post-mortem interval needs to be minimised so that all the proteins and the molecules in the brain can be preserved and fixed so that there are no other artefacts can affect the researcher’s analysis. The optimal time to collect the brain will be less than 24 hours.
So far we have over 500 people who have formally consented to be brain donors for MS research and we currently have 19 brains already in the bank.
A common reason that people with MS would want to donate their brain is because they want to help the future generations; people in their family or other people with MS or who will be diagnosed with MS they would like to help others with MS so that after they pass away their tissue can be used to help find a cure to help other people in the future from getting MS.