The neuropathological research area comprises a “brain bank” and a “neuropathology laboratory”.
As its name indicates, this is a tissue bank offering high interest rates in scientific terms. The brain tissue stored in this bank is that of individuals who, in life, were well-known and closely assessed. The brain banks that are increasingly being set up in other countries are already producing an extensive body of published research data and it is becoming clear that neuropathological research will, in the future, be a field reserved for those having such tissue banks at their disposal.
A nervous tissue bank-based research project developed within a geriatric institute will inevitably be linked to the question of brain ageing. For some time now, brain ageing been one of the most widely studied topics in biomedicine, on account of the frequency and impact of the neurological diseases associated with the ageing process: Alzheimer’s disease and primary degenerative dementias, Parkinson’s disease and extrapyramidal disorders, cerebrovascular diseases, glial tumours.
A tissue bank attached to a geriatric institute obviously has ready access to individuals affected by these neurological disorders. Certainly, all those admitted to the Golgi Institute are affected, to some degree, by one or more of them. The peculiarity of our brain bank project, however, lies in the fact that the Institute offers the opportunity to create a parallel brain bank of tissue from individuals who may be classified as “mentally healthy”. At present, such tissue banks are practically non-existent, even though they would be an extremely useful study resource, both for comparisons with diseased brains and also for drawing conclusions, even of a general nature, on the relationship between brain morphology, pathology and mental function.
The neuropathology laboratory studies the macroscopic, but especially the microscopic, features of diseased brain tissue; it therefore uses material from the brain bank.