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Brain bank also needs a bailout -- but it won't cost you a penny

Ireland's scientists are urging the public to donate their brains to a national 'bank' to help with vital research.

The National Irish Brain Bank aims to find potential cures for Alzheimer's, motor neuron disease, schizophrenia and autism.

Ireland is the only European country that doesn't have a national brain bank for this type of research.

Project co-ordinator Mary Mc Elroy is urging more people to consider donating and has been tasked with raising awareness.

So far more than 70 donors with central nervous system diseases have registered with the Dublin Brain Bank at the Royal College of Surgeons in the Smurfit Building at Beaumont Hospital.

Samples

Now scientists are looking for people who don't have any neurological disorders to donate. These samples can act as a 'control' for any findings.

"Increasing the supply of 'healthy' tissue that can be provided for use in scientific studies as a comparator (control) with the tissue from people with brain disorders is an important goal for brain research from a scientific perspective," Ms Mc Elroy said.

"By encouraging people to make a post-mortem brain donation, the Dublin Brain Bank offers people the chance to support medical science."

Ms Mc Elroy stressed that donation is confidential and the data collected will only be analysed by approved members of research groups working on neurodegenerative disorders.

"Once a donation has occurred the tissue is given a unique identification number and stored securely," she said.

Potential donors, or their families, must fill out an 'intent to donate' form, which is separate to the donor card.

Email the co-ordinator at brainbank@rcsi.ie or call 8092706 at Beaumont Hospital for further information.

clairemurphy@herald.ie