Freezer failure at brain bank hampers autism research

11 Jun

Tissue samples, especially brain tissue samples, are critical to autism research. However, there are very few brains available for post-mortem research. One bank of such tissues is at McLean Hospital in Boston. The tissue bank is affiliated with Harvard University. Tissue banks take great care to preserve their collections, as you might imagine. However a freezer failure at McClean has damaged one third of the specimens there. The Boston Globe discusses this in Freezer failure at brain bank hampers autism research.

From the Boston Globe:

An official at the renowned brain bank in Belmont discovered that the freezer had shut down in late May, without triggering two alarms. Inside, they found 150 thawed brains that had turned dark from decay; about a third of them were part of a collection of autism brains

This is a huge loss to the research community.

One can read more about one tissue bank here in the article NICHD Brain and Tissue Bank. No one wants to think about making the decision to donate one’s tissues, or those of a loved one. But it is something well worth planning ahead.

With a hat-tip to the reader who forwarded me the link on the story, and to Boston Globe photographer Essdras M Suarez whose photo is above.

3 Responses to “Freezer failure at brain bank hampers autism research”

  1. passionlessdrone June 12, 2012 at 01:10 #

    Hello friends –

    Terrible news in a critical area that is largely invisible to most of us. Regarding planning ahead, this is uber important; from the Tissue bank link provided by Sullivan:

    Tissue needs to be collected within 24 hours. Let’s face it, no one wants to have to face the decision of whether to donate a loved one’s tissue in that time of immense grief. Plan ahead. register

    Thanks for posting this.

    – pD


  1. The need for tissue donations « Left Brain Right Brain - June 26, 2012

    […] recent loss of tissue from one of the tissue banks is a major setback to autism research. Tissue, brain tissue in particular, is an incredibly scarce […]

  2. Autism Science Foundation to Develop Brain Tissue Awareness Campaign « Left Brain Right Brain - October 3, 2012

    […] One thing I learned at IMFAR last year was that brain tissue is critical to many areas of autism research and that there is very little tissue available for research. OK, that’s two things. This year saw an amazingly sad event where a large number of brain tissue samples were ruined in a freezer failure. […]

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