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Brain Tissue Banks Partner on Autism Research

Human brain

(aboutmodafinil.com, Flickr)

18 November 2015. Two repositories of brain tissue for research on neurological disorders agreed to coordinate their donation and distribution policies for studies of autism. The agreement aims to bring into alignment policies and practices of NeuroBioBank at National Institutes of Health and Autism BrainNet, a private tissue bank.

The deal covers brain tissue samples for research on autism spectrum disorder, a collection of neurodevelopmental conditions, marked by communication difficulties and impaired social interaction, as well as repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Some 1 in 68 children have autism spectrum disorder, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with males 5 times more likely to have the disorder than females. Classic autism is considered the most severe form of the syndrome.

Research on neurological conditions, including autism spectrum disorder, benefits from the availability of high-quality brain tissue. The NeuroBioBank, begun at NIH in 2013, collects post-mortem brain tissue in a network of academic research sites in the U.S. for studies of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Autism BrainNet also collects post-mortem brain tissue in a consortium of academic research sites, but focusing on autism spectrum disorder.

Under the agreement, National Institute of Mental Health, part of NIH, will bring together the two tissue banks to establish common best practices on donation and maintenance of brain tissue for research on autism spectrum disorder. The collaboration aims at writing standardized brain donation protocols that cover obtaining consent, ensuring privacy protection, processing, and maintaining donor tissue.

The common protocols are also expected to include procedures for collecting donors’ clinical, medical, and education records. In addition, the agreement plans to establish a catalog of available samples and data from both tissue repositories and enforce fair distribution rules for those samples.

NeuroBioBank is supported by National Institute of Mental Health, as well as  National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, also at NIH. Autism BrainNet is supported by Autism Speaks and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative.

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