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Contribution of the Brain Bank towards Neuroscience Research on Aging-related Disorders

Junko Fujigasaki, M.D., Ph.D.

Former Theme Leader (Neuropathology [the Brain Bank for Aging Research])

With the advance of an aging society in Japan, research on age-related nervous system diseases, becomes more important. In our institution's Brain Bank for Aging Research (BBAR), donated brains are reserved for neuroscience research on age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. In our brain bank, half of every autopsied brain is fixed for histological analysis and the other half is frozen for biological research. A final pathological diagnosis of the disease can only be made after histological analysis of the autopsied brains. Clinical diagnosis, made in the patient's lifetime, needs to be reviewed and compared to the final results of the pathological diagnosis. This process will deeply contribute to earlier and more precise clinical diagnosis of disease in the future. In our facility, the hospital and laboratory are built next to each other, which facilitates close communication between our clinical and pathological departments.
The frozen brains are provided to researchers both inside and outside of the country, in response to their requirement. Various methods, including using cultured cells or animal models, are currently applied for disease research; however, studies of human brains are indispensable for discovering the true mechanisms of these nervous system diseases. We are making efforts to give precise pathological diagnoses based on standard international criteria, and to maintain the quality of brain resources.
The BBAR at our institution has set up a brain donation system. Brain donation is purely voluntary and can be freely withdrawn. Detailed information can be obtained from our BBAR website (in Japanese: URL http://www2.tmig.or.jp/brainbk/).