The nine fundraisers from the charity toured the Brain Bank – one of just 10 in the UK – to discover more about its collection and how it is involved in the latest dementia studies.
They met the bank’s founder, world renowned neuropathologist Professor David Mann, and its manager Dr Andy Robinson, who showed the group some of the facilities and equipment. Prof Mann and Dr Robinson explained how anonymised samples of brain tissue are prepared and safely stored before use in studies into Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, motor neurone disease, Parkinsonian disorders and Huntington’s disease.
The visitors were especially interested to see the very visible differences in two samples of brain tissue – one with Alzheimer’s disease and one without – shown to them in the dissection room.
Dr Robinson said: “The Brain Bank is partly funded by the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK through the Brains for Dementia Research initiative so it was good to show the fundraising team what their support means to research. Dementia is the leading cause of death in England and Wales and we are proud that the Brain Bank is used by so many researchers both in the UK and worldwide to discover more about why it occurs and to look for effective treatments.”
Around 1,000 brains are stored at Salford Royal. The collection has underpinned much of the basic and clinical research into frontotemporal dementias that has been pioneered in Manchester over the past 30 years. Key findings in recent years have involved identifying mutation of the gene C9orf72 as the major cause of inherited frontotemporal dementia and motor neurone disease.
Samples are only provided to ethically approved projects – over the last five years, the bank has supported nearly 60 studies.