Neuroscientists from the Institute for the Study of the Brain. Alena in Seattle (USA) is asking everyone who is going to have brain surgery to take part in their program. Its essence is in the collection and preservation of living samples of tissues and cells of the human brain for scientific research. Living specimens are much more valuable than dead flesh, but even it is not easy to get, therefore voluntary donation is strongly encouraged.
Scientists from Seattle have developed a method for obtaining living fragments of the brain, which does not threaten patients. Donors are those who are about to undergo brain surgery, for example, removal of tumors or neurosurgery to treat epilepsy. In the course of such operations, small pieces of the brain are cut out anyway, but instead of being disposed of, they are instantly placed in an environment with nutrients, preserving vital functions.
Today, a team of neuroscientists led by Edd Lane collects fifty samples a year, but much more is needed - in fact, everything that can be collected. Posthumous specimens are convenient for studying the structure, but not the activity of cells. And with the brain of a living person, many experiments cannot be performed due to technical and moral-ethical problems. Living samples from donors are an ideal resource for research, but other than the United States, no such programs have been launched anywhere else in the world.
Living human brain cells will help scientists study its structure
Intravital brain donation solves many bureaucratic problems if the patient has clearly expressed a desire to donate an already unnecessary piece of flesh. This does not threaten his life, does not require financial costs or complex administrative measures. In contrast, obtaining a brain fragment from the deceased is a complex and multi-stage procedure, in which a number of doctors of different profiles must be involved. And this is provided that there are no religious, ethnic and cultural obstacles, and they usually are. In such conditions, conscious donation in vivo becomes a real lifesaver for scientists, so the new program has attracted a lot of attention.