By Shannon Lane @Shannonroselane
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Videographer / Director: Darragh Mason Field
Producer: Shannon Lane, Ed Baranski
Editor: Marcus Cooper
At Imperial College London there is one of the UK's Brain Banks, established for diagnoses and research into neurological disorders.
The college’s brain bank specifies in research for Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological condition.
The brains are donated by members of the public, both those with Parkinson’s and people without, as comparisons between the different tissue need to be made.
When a donor dies their brain must go into formaline, an organic compound used for preservation of biological specimens, and stored in a freezer within 48 hours to be useful to research.
Dr Beckie Port, Research Communications Manager for Parkinson’s UK, said: "The Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank is the world’s only dedicated brain bank for Parkinson’s research."
There is currently no cure or known cause for the condition, however researchers believe it’s a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
The main symptoms of the illness are tremors, slowness of movement and rigidity. Hallucinations, depression, pain, lack of sleep and nausea are less commonly known symptoms.
There are many different treatments for Parkinson’s; therapies and support available to help manage the condition, but these only mask the symptoms, rather than slow or halt the condition’s progression.
UK photographer Darragh Mason Field was granted access to the Imperial College Brain Bank in September 2017 to celebrate their 1,000th brain donation due for this month.
Darragh interviewed and filmed Professor Steve Gentleman, Scientific Director of Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank during his daily task of brain dissection.
The professor said: "I’m going to dissect and sample various areas of the brain, looking for pathology at a microscopic level."
Through collecting precious tissue from people with and without Parkinson’s, the researchers at Imperial College can look into better treatments for those affected by Parkinson’s, and hopefully find a cure.
Professor Steve Gentleman dissected the donated brain searching for signs of Parkinson’s disease. Every piece of tissue is catalogued, with a barcode.
Research made possible through the donation of brain tissue has already led to major advances in the understanding of Parkinson's, and resulted in new treatments being developed and tested.
Future donations could lead to discoveries which help find a cure and improve the lives of the 127,000 people living with Parkinson's in the UK.