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GREAT MINDS; EXCLUSIVE Brain study for Parkinson's disease treatment Scots'brains sent Down Under for study Brain study for Parkinson's disease treatment.

Byline: Nicola Stow

THE University of Edinburgh has donated Scots' brain samples to be shared and studied in Melbourne for vital research into Parkinson's disease.

Scientists at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health are investigating whether there is a link between levels of TURN TO PAGE 2

FROM PAGE 1 the feel-good molecule dopamine and exposure to light.

The study could lead to new treatments for conditions such as Parkinson's disease in which dopamine levels are low.

The head of the Florey's adult neurogenesis laboratory, Tim Aumann, said the pilot study could prove the hypothesis that patients who died in winter had fewer dopamine cells in the midbrain and hypothalamus regions, where dopamine is produced.

The research also raises the potential of drug-free treatments for conditions including schizophrenia and drug addiction where high levels of dopamine are recorded.

There could also be ramifications for conditions such as ADHD and depression in which dopamine levels are low, and seasonal affective disorder, where dopamine levels fluctuate.The study follows animal trials that showed there was a ''chemical switching''that occurs in cells in rodent brains when placed in different environments.

But it now needs to be established whether this translates from rodents to humans.

The brain samples were imported because researchers needed to study people who had lived at high altitude, where winter days were short and summer days long.

The 20 samples from the brain bank at the university are evenly split between patients who died in summer and patients who died in winter. Dr Aumann said:''We're looking for changes in the number of dopamine cells."

The golf ball-sized blocks of brain, embedded in paraffin wax to solidify the jelly-like texture, are taken from the midbrain region associated with Parkinson's disease.

FACTFILE: ?The Edinburgh Brain Bank is funded by the Medical Research Council and is part of the UK's brain banks network.

It supports neuroscience research locally, nationally and internationally.

The Edinburgh Brain Bank retrieves brain samples from post mortem examinations from a number of neurological conditions . ?The Edinburgh Brain Bank does not retain whole brains but rather, its researchers retain small brain fragments from a number of brain regions.

All samples used in medical research are anonymised and in all cases have full ethical approval and consent from families.

Tissue samples are routinely shared with scientists both nationally and internationally who have funded research programmes and who have local ethical approval.

The Edinburgh Brain Bank has an ethics committee to assess all applications.

The study referred to in Melbourne was reviewed by the committee and it was approved. A small number of formalin fixed samples of tissue were shared with researchers at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health to help facilitate its project.

FROM PAGE 1 the feel-good [...]
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Article Type:Report
Date:Nov 27, 2013
Words:462
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