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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

An Example of Progress from Donating Body Tissue for Research

It’s difficult to create positives from death. But, when a loved one is dying, positives are possible when there is the presence of mind to donate tissues for scientific research. A recent example arises from a new study of the portions of the brains of children who suffered from autism, and died young. The mRNA of their brain tissues were compared to the same tissues of other children who died young. Important differences were found, and provide new insights into the autism disease process. The new study is published in the free, full online access library known as the Public Library of Science – Genetics.

This example of progress from tissue donation provides a moment for thought: Have you registered with your Secretary of State to be an organ donor ? Have you told your family members that you wish to donate tissues for research?

Note also that scientific papers sometimes include a very human touch. The study authors thoughtfully included this note:

"We thank all parents for the donation of brain tissue from their loved ones. Tissue for this study was provided by the NICHD Brain and Tissue Bank for Developmental Disorders, the Brain and Tissue Bank for Developmental Disorders, Autism Tissue Program, and Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center. Additional acknowledgements are listed in Text S1."

The study citations and credits – below – also illustrate the free flow of knowledge, the power of collaboration, and investment in fundamental research:

"Citation: Chow ML, Pramparo T, Winn ME, Barnes CC, Li H-R, et al. (2012) Age-Dependent Brain Gene Expression and Copy Number Anomalies in Autism Suggest Distinct Pathological Processes at Young Versus Mature Ages. PLoS Genet 8(3): e1002592. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002592

Editor: Greg Gibson, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States of America

Received: September 27, 2011; Accepted: January 22, 2012; Published: March 22, 2012

Copyright: © 2012 Chow et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: This research was supported by Cure Autism Now, the Simons Foundation, The Peter Emch Family Foundation, Autism Speaks, The Thursday Club Juniors, the Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego, and the UCSD-NIH Autism Center of Excellence (P50-MH081755). NJS and MEW are funded in part by part by the following National Institutes of Health research grants: U19 AG023122-01, R01 MH078151-01A1, N01 MH22005, U01 DA024417-01, UL1 RR025774, RC2 DA029475, R01 AG031224, U54 NS056883, as well as grants from the Price Foundation and Scripps Genomic Medicine. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript."

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