“Live” human brain biosamples to revolutionise translational neuroscience research

Posted on: 26 July 2023

Researchers from Trinity are collaborating with those from the University of Oxford on a new project that will provide access to high quality, “live” human brain biosamples. They believe this approach has the potential to revolutionise research for the benefit of patients.

“Live” human brain biosamples to revolutionise translational neuroscience research

The UK Brain BioLink project (2023-2026), funded by the Medical Research Council, will facilitate the move from static (descriptive) to dynamic (functional) human neuropathology through regular, quality-assured provision of live tissues using a network of laboratories in the UK and Ireland (Aston, Dublin, Oxford and Southampton).

The project aims to facilitate rapid access to high quality, well characterised human brain biosamples and data for translational and basic neuroscience research.  

The current system of collecting brain tissue from donors to promote research into disorders of central nervous system does not offer what neuroscientists need. It is focused on traditional post-mortem approaches (not living nervous tissue); is biased towards end-stage neurodegeneration; is not technology-driven; is inflexible; and in many cases is expensive due to fragmentation.

Professor Mark Cunningham, Ellen Mayston Bates Professor of Neurophysiology of Epilepsy at Trinity,said:

“I am delighted to participate in this exciting network as the designated lead for the new four-centre hub-spoke Brain BioLink, which will offer a live nervous tissue collaboration.

“This work will ultimately benefit patients by improving the approaches by which new drugs can be developed for conditions such as epilepsy and other diseases of the human nervous system.”  

The project will impact on academic translational neuroscience, allowing researchers to use biosamples to define normal or abnormal function of the human nervous system.

This builds on Professor Cunningham’s work that has pioneered the establishment of a research platform with colleagues at Beaumont Hospital/RCSI and the SFI-funded FutureNeuro centre to conduct electrophysiological studies on live human brain tissue obtained from patients undergoing neurosurgical procedures as part of their treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy.

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