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BRAIN UK Research Tissue Bank Home

A brain bank is somewhere that stores brain and sometimes other neurological tissues for the purposes of ethically approved research. BRAIN UK is a virtual brain bank, in that it does not store any tissue samples itself but holds the location of where they are stored.  In other words, it catalogues them in a centralised database. BRAIN UK's samples are the tissues left over from diagnosis, either post-mortem or from living patients being operated on (i.e. biopsies).  As a result, the tissue samples are located in the NHS archives of our collaborating NHS Neuropathology Centres.  The aim is to making these already existing extensive archives available to the research community for high quality neurological research. To date we have access to over 120,000 cases, unlocking thousands of previously hard to access brain samples for researchers throughout the UK.  We have ethical approval to grant projects access and use of central nervous system tissue.

These valuable tissue resources contain neurological conditions that do not currently attract dedicated brain bank funding (e.g. stroke) as well as psychiatric disorders (e.g. schizophrenia) and rare disorders (e.g. progressive multifocal leucoencephalopathy). In addition, brain tumour tissue can be difficult for researchers to access, as many types of tumour are rare. However, BRAIN UK aims to catalogue in excess of 400,000 of the stored biopsies that are potentially available to research, helping to support a diverse range of research projects. In addition to tumours, the biopsies include other neurological conditions, peripheral nerve and muscle. Importantly, BRAIN UK also has many disease-free cases useful as controls.

BRAIN UK is a collaboration between NHS Neuropathology Centres across the UK, giving effective coverage of 90% of UK population.  The British Neuropathological Society, British Neuro-oncology Society, Brain Tumour Network, Medical Research Council and National Cancer Research Institute Brain Tumour Clinical Studies Group have provided input into and support for the project.

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