Mission & Ethics
The MS Research Australia Brain Bank aims to provide the highest quality and best characterised post-mortem human MS tissue to researchers undertaking scientific studies into the causes, treatments and potential cures for MS.
Our goals are to:
1. Increase public awareness of the importance of using human brain tissue for MS research and to recruit potential donors with MS to the MS Research Australia Brain Bank Donor Program.
By using high quality well characterised brain tissue for research, scientists will have a better chance of finding answers to their research questions.
2. Retrieve and properly preserve tissue within 24 hours of death.
Like other organ donations, timing is critical in order to minimise deterioration of key molecules in the brain and other tissues. The MS Research Australia Brain Bank collaborates with the Australian Brain Bank Network to retrieve brain and other tissues as soon as possible after being notified of the death of prospective donors.
3. Process and store MS tissue using a similar protocol as that for control tissue, and in a way that facilitates future retrieval and use in the widest range of scientific experiments.
The MS Research Australia Brain Bank collaborates with the Australian Brain Bank Network to store the collected materials using various optimised protocols. Fresh frozen tissue is optimal for genomic and proteomics research studies, while formalin-fixed tissue is suited for neuropathological and histological analyses. Specific anatomical regions as well as MS affected areas are extracted for further processing.
4. Confirm pathologically the presence or absence of MS or other neurological illnesses.
Each donated brain is subjected to a thorough neuropathological examination by qualified Pathologists from the Australian Brain Bank Network to confirm disease diagnosis and a report can be made available upon request to the donor’s family and doctors.
5. Characterise the neuropathology of the MS affected tissue.
The MS Research Australia Brain Bank is unique in being able to draw on the knowledge and experience of experts in MS neuropathology to identify and characterise MS lesions as chronic, active, remyelinating and so on.
6. Promote and encourage Australian researchers to utilise post-mortem MS tissue.
Australia has a number of world class MS research centres that will utilise the MS tissues in their research programs. Tissue requests are reviewed by an independent MS Research Australia Brain Bank Scientific Advisory Committee who ensures that the proposed use of tissue is ethical and scientifically sound.
The MS Research Australia Brain Bank operates under strict legal and ethical regulations within the NSW Human Tissue Act (1982) and the equivalent interstate legislation. Ethics approval is also granted by the Sydney South West Area Health Service (RPAH Zone) and The University of Sydney.
- All tissue and data collected are obtained with written informed consent of the donor and their senior available next-of-kin.
- All tissue is retrieved by specially trained staff using a standardised autopsy and dissection protocol.
- The donor’s body and all tissues are handled carefully, ethically, and treated with respect at all times by our staff.
- All tissue and medical records are identified by numeric code such that the donor’s identity remains confidential.
- All tissue and data are securely stored and are accessible only by authorised Brain Bank staff.
- Tissue is only released for research projects approved by the MS Research Australia Brain Bank Scientific Advisory Committee.
- Tissue is disseminated under conditions of the Material Transfer Agreement, which restricts the use of the material to approved research projects only and forbids its use for commercial purposes.
- If tissue is no longer suitable for research, it is disposed of in an ethical and respectful manner, in accordance with national regulations.