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Freezer failure at brain bank hampers autism research

Posted Jun 11 2012 5:00pm

Tissue samples, especially brain tissue samples, are critical to autism research. However, there are very few brains available for post-mortem research. One bank of such tissues is at McLean Hospital in Boston. The tissue bank is affiliated with Harvard University. Tissue banks take great care to preserve their collections, as you might imagine. However a freezer failure at McClean has damaged one third of the specimens there. The Boston Globe discusses this in Freezer failure at brain bank hampers autism research .

From the Boston Globe:

An official at the renowned brain bank in Belmont discovered that the freezer had shut down in late May, without triggering two alarms. Inside, they found 150 thawed brains that had turned dark from decay; about a third of them were part of a collection of autism brains

This is a huge loss to the research community.

One can read more about one tissue bank here in the article NICHD Brain and Tissue Bank . No one wants to think about making the decision to donate one’s tissues, or those of a loved one. But it is something well worth planning ahead.

With a hat-tip to the reader who forwarded me the link on the story, and to Boston Globe photographer Essdras M Suarez whose photo is above.

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