A small laboratory holds hundreds of human brains, labelled and ready for dissection, in the hope of one day finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
Imperial College London is one of the UK’s Brain Banks, which were established to aid diagnoses and research into neurological disorders.
The brains are donated by members of the public, and include both those with without Parkinson’s to allow for comparisons to be made between the different tissue types.
When a donor dies their brain goes into an organic preservation compound, known as formaline, before being stored in a freezer, all within 48 hours.
The bank is due to receive its 1,000th organ donation this month.
Scroll down for video
A lab holds hundreds of brains, ready for dissection, in the hope of finding a Parkinson’s cure
Professor Steve Gentleman (pictured) dissects brain tissue samples to look at their make up
The brain bank specialises in Parkinson’s, in the hope of improving treatment options
OBESE PEOPLE ARE NEARLY 20% LESS LIKELY TO DEVELOP PARKINSON’S – AND IT COULD BE DUE TO GENETICS
Having an obese BMI throughout your life lowers your risk of developing the condition by 18 per cent, a study review found.
This may be be due to the weight disorder sharing genetic variants with factors that protect against the neurological condition, according to researchers from University College London.
Yet, the researchers warn the health risks of carrying excessive weight will likely outweigh any reduced susceptibility to PD.
They said: ‘Although our results suggest that higher BMI is potentially protective against PD, the negative health impacts of raising BMI are likely to be significant, and should be taken into account.’
Hope of finding a cure
Through collecting tissue from various brains, the researchers can better investigate treatments for those affected by Parkinson’s and hopefully find a cure.
Every piece of brain tissue is catalogued and given a specific barcode.
Professor Steve Gentleman, scientific director of Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank, said: ‘I’m going to dissect and sample various areas of the brain, looking for pathology at a microscopic level.’
Dr Beckie Port, research communications manager for Parkinson’s UK, added: ‘The Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank is the world’s only dedicated brain bank for Parkinson’s research.’
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease occurs when regions of the brain become progressively damaged, resulting in symptoms such as tremors, slow movement, and stiff, inflexible muscles.
Hallucinations, depression, pain, insomnia and nausea can also occur.
Parkinson’s is brought on due to the loss of nerve cells in the brain. It is unclear why this occurs but is probably due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Around one in 500 people in the UK suffer.
Parkinson’s has no cure, with treatment focusing on slowing its progression and easing symptoms through medication, physiotherapy and, in some cases, brain surgery.
Brains are donated by the public, and include both those with and without the condition
This ensures brain tissue can be compared between Parkinson sufferers and healthy people
When a donor dies, their brain is preserved and then put into a freezer, all within 48 hours
Every piece of donated brain tissue is catalogued and given a specific barcode
The brain bank is due to receive its 1,000th donated organ at some point this month
Parkinson’s has no cure. Treatment focuses on easing symptoms and slowing progression