Alcohol-related disorders are areas of major public health and socio-economic concern.
Research aim ed at preventing addiction and organ damage, especially alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD), must be underpinned by a sound knowledge of the biology of alcohol abuse at a cellular level. Such research is dependent on access to high quality, extensively characterized tissue from alcoholic subjects and matched controls. The New South Wales Tissue Resource Center (NSW TRC) at the University of Sydney is an established brain bank that focuses on facilitating research into alcoholism, alcohol-related brain damage and associated conditions. Since its inception the NSW TRC has provided tissue for over 150 research projects.
The aim of this innovative facility is to continue o provide fresh-frozen and formalin fixed tissue to research groups in the USA and worldwide who are studying alcohol use disorders. Tissue is collected, with appropriate consent, from forensic autopsies and through a prospective brain donor program, Using our Brains. The donors have lifestyle, medical and psychiatric histories fully documented. Access is open to any researcher with institutional ethics approval. In addition to providing researchers with tissue, the NSW TRC takes a leading role in the area of brain banking by researching methods for enhancing tissue quality, developing standardized preparation protocols, undertaking meticulous clinical characterization of cases, building better information management systems and training staff. Brain banking is a long-term endeavor and maximum benefits will be seen as the number of researchers accessing the facility increases. Multiple research groups using the same case material and applying different questions or techniques will serve to amplify the outcomes of the research. Furthermore, because of the extensive characterization of cases, research groups can generate data that can be related to clinical, laboratory and radiological information. Taken together the provision of high quality, appropriately prepared tissue to researchers will help address the important health problem caused by alcohol abuse. There is strong support for this facility from both the public and the research community.
Understanding the biological basis of addiction, and the factors affecting an organ's susceptibility to damage, is required to further our knowledge of alcoholism and alcohol toxicity, and for the development of treatment and prevention strategies. Such research is facilitated by access to well-characterized, ethically obtained human post-mortem brain tissue from the NSW Tissue Resource Center.
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