It takes a heart to give a brainBrains for Dementia Research was established in 2007 to promote brain donation and establish a network of brain banks to facilitate research into dementia.
Dementia is a devastating condition, robbing individuals of memory and relationships, bringing anxiety, depression and increasing incapacity. Despite being relatively common, knowledge and treatments are very limited, partly because research cannot, in many cases, be achieved without the use of human brain tissue, which is in short supply.
Brains for Dementia Research aims to go one step further and monitor people with a memory impairment and people who do not have a memory impairment ('normal controls') with respect to memory, cognition and behaviour regularly until they die and then study the brain. This enables researchers to look much more specifically at brain changes in relation to particular manifestations of dementia.
For example, dementia caused by nerve cells failing to process certain proteins normally (such as microtubule-associated protein) and slowly dying, is likely to need quite different treatment to dementia that arises from multiple tiny interruptions to the blood supply of the brain, that gradually deprive more and more of the brain of oxygen.
We therefore invite people diagnosed with a memory impairment (or dementia) to participate in monitoring memory, thinking and behaviour prior to brain donation. We also invite those who do not have a memory impairment to take part, as normal brain tissue is essential for comparison.
Unfortunately, the brain is too complex to replicate in the laboratory, which is why we ask people with dementia and normal controls to consider making such a valuable gift.