- Title: Belgian doctors pin hope on large brain collection to treat diseases
- Date: 19th July 2017
- Summary: SLATE WITH BRAIN PATTERN UNDER MICROSCOPE, LIGHT UNDERNEATH CHANGING
- Embargoed: 2nd August 2017 15:27
- Keywords: Brains brain research medical psychiatry depression psychosis hospital
- Location: DUFFEL, BELGIUM
- City: DUFFEL, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: Life Sciences,Science
- Reuters ID: LVA0036QDW8JR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS GRAPHIC PICTURES
A Belgian psychiatric hospital is home to one of the largest collections of human brains in the world, which researchers say could hold the key to developing new treatments for diseases such as psychosis, schizophrenia and severe depression.
The more than 3000 brains of diseased psychiatric patients were part of an even larger collection of about 8000 items, assembled over more than 40 years by British neuro-pathologist John Corsellis, who started in the 1950s.
The London-based hospital which stored the brains had run out of space and needed to find a new home, eventually agreeing to send them to the Duffel Psychiatric Hospital in the north of Belgium.
Stored in formaldehyde and tucked away in ordinary plastic containers in the basement of the hospital, some of the brains are still completely intact, while others have been sliced up.
Scientists say the older brains are the most interesting, as they carry the diseases without ever having been treated with modern medicines.
By using methods developed more recently, researchers can see what molecular processes have taken place and compare them with healthy brains.
Manuel Morrens, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Antwerp told Reuters that they can investigate thoroughly which proteins are active during certain phases of mental illnesses.
He added that this will really contribute to our understanding of what is going on in the brain.
The first results of their research will be available later this year.
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