Access to clinically and neuropathologically well-characterised post mortem human brain tissue and related samples, that has been appropriately processed to allow for histological, genetic and biochemical studies.
Each state has a Tissue Request Application that has been developed in line with State legislation and associated institutional ethics requirements.
The brain banks have obtained ethics approval for banking and distribution of CNS tissue from their administering institutions, which is reviewed annually and have adopted appropriate practices in line with current ethical and privacy standards according to their State legislation.
It is obligatory to sign a Material Transfer Agreement before the tissue will be provided.
All applications are reviewed by the States' Scientific Review Committee (SRC). Each State has a SRC comprising of State brain bank members and independent specialist scientists. Provision of tissue to the applicant will be determined by the States' SRC and will be based on scientific merit and feasibility of the research proposals. Applicants must understand and agree that in submitting the application that the application for tissue will be assessed by members of the States' SRC who are involved in collecting CNS tissue at autopsy and to abide by their decision on whether tissue will be supplied and any limitations placed on the provision of tissue (e.g. size of sample or number of samples).
Applicants must have obtained appropriate Human Ethics approval for the specified scientific project from their parent institution. A letter of approval from the Human Ethics Committee of the applicant's parent institution must be made available prior to the tissue being provided for the research project.
Post mortem tissue is potentially infectious and therefore any tissue supplied is on the understanding that experiments performed will be undertaken in appropriate facilities. The brain bank providing the tissue accepts no responsibility for the transmission of any disease or injury as a result of the uses of any materials supplied. The principal investigators must accept full responsibility to ensure that all staff use proper and approved safety precautions when working with CNS tissues provided by the brain bank. It is highly recommended that all staff handling human tissue have their hepatitis immune status verified and undergo vaccination, if needed.
The tissue provided must only be used solely for the project identified on the Tissue Request Application. Any proposed modification from the agreed protocol must be communicated in writing to the brain bank that provided the tissue and the modification approved by the SRC prior to using the modified tissue protocol.
Recipients must not distribute tissue or tissue products to other researchers without written authorisation from brain bank providing the tissue.
Where possible to offset the considerable expenditure by the ABBN for the procurement of tissue including processing and operation costs associated with donor recruitment, tissue collection, processing, diagnosis, storage, data management and quality assurance, an access fee will apply. Access fees will be discussed with the applicant beforehand.
In most cases, the transport cost for the delivery of the tissue will be the responsibility of the recipient.
As part of the application approval process the State SRCs will discuss each project and will make a recommendation regarding whether the tissue request justifies seeking co-authorship or whether acknowledgement of the brain banks supplying the tissue is sufficient. In making its recommendation the SRC will refer to the authorship section of the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice.
The brain banks providing the tissue must be acknowledged in all publications and presentations arising from the use of material even where the absence of agreed collaborations means that members of the brain bank are not authors on any publication. It is expected that significant intellectual input during the data analysis process may be required from brain bank members and therefore it is possible that active collaboration and resulting co-authorship that were not planned during the initial submission may arise.
Any publications from research not carried out in collaboration with the brain banks will acknowledge the source of the tissue.
On completion of the project all data will be made available to the brain banks providing the tissue either in the form of reprints (pdf's are acceptable) or all publications arising from the research or, for unpublished data, as tabulated results.
Discussions between applicants and the brain banks are encouraged prior to the submission of the application. Brain bank personnel can provide useful advice and expertise on the use of human tissue and the availability of tissue.
Applicants must accept that decisions regarding the supply of tissue will be made in the light of overall demands placed on the ABBN and the impact on these demands on available tissue.
Applications may need to be modified before submission dependant on disease category, region and amount of tissue available.
Tissue is stored securely at each Brain Bank within the ABBN and is identified only by a unique identification number. Donor details are held securely on computer and in locked files within a locked office at a separate location to ensure strict confidentiality.
Applicants have access to the tissue only through the identification number. Once tissues are received, researchers must issue new identification numbers for each case. These numbers should be different from the numbers for the cases assigned by the brain bank.
Any tissue transferred from the brain bank to the recipients remains the property of the brain bank. The recipients have only a non-exclusive right to use the tissue within the terms of this agreement. Consistent with this non-exclusive right, the recipients are not permitted to sell, loan or otherwise provide the tissues to a third party without prior written consent of the ABBN.
Recipients must understand that the tissue must be returned to the brain bank upon the completion of the project for use by others or if requested at any other time by the brain bank providing the tissue.
Tissue that is no longer suitable for research is to be disposed of in an ethical and respectful manner, in accordance with prevailing State regulations.
The ABBN is keen to facilitate research into brain and mind disorders and each brain bank will be happy to provide assistance and experts advise with the Tissue Request process.
The ABBN recommends when submitting grants which plan to use ABBN tissues, the ABBN should be contacted in order to estimate the cost of tissue procurement which can be factored into the grant application budget.