On average, the residents of Sun City, Arizona, occupy their domiciles for a dozen years. When they depart—almost always by dying—they often leave their brains behind. The stages of physical and mental decline take them from their dream house to a hospital off Del Webb Boulevard, then to a nursing home, and finally back to the medical complex, where researchers harvest their most important organ. Hoping to do good for science, they have enrolled in the Brain and Body Donation Program of the Banner Sun Health Research Institute—widely considered the world’s preeminent brain bank.
A large base of well-
documented donors in close proximity sets the Sun City program apart from other repositories, which often have scant information about patients who may be scattered and diverse. Here, healthy, active seniors who eventually die of, say, heart disease, can be compared with others who develop neurodegenerative disorders. Because the two sets of subjects have similar backgrounds, lifestyles, and ethnic traits, changes relating to a brain disease should be easier to detect.
The institute is also famed for its crack autopsy team, which responds so quickly that no more than three hours elapse from the time a donor expires to the time that the brain is removed and preserved. “We’re not the biggest brain bank in the world, but we have the highest-quality tissue,” says pathologist Thomas Beach, the program director, who notes that donors must live within a 50-mile radius of the morgue.
After withdrawing some blood and cerebrospinal fluid for analysis, a team of rotating techs on duty 24 hours a day remove the top of the skull and take out the brain. The next step relies on a device that resembles a bread slicer, which is used to cut the brain into sections one centimeter thick. The slices from the left side are fixed in formaldehyde and those from the right are frozen between sheets of dry ice. Part of the tissue from the formaldehyde sections is stained, pressed into slides, and put under the microscope to verify the brain’s condition, healthy or diseased. The rest, light brown and convoluted, may be held in Tupperware containers at the research institute indefinitely. A recent visit to the storeroom turned up a container dated 1994.
These fresh brain sections, kept in carefully monitored freezers, are hot properties for advanced neuroscience research. Because the brain’s proteins, DNA, and other molecules are still intact, pharmaceutical companies are willing to pay high prices for the tissue.
One of the most prized specimens is a sample of the entorhinal cortex, regarded as the X on the brain’s treasure map by Alzheimer’s researchers because the disease is thought to originate there; the nonprofit brain bank charges up to $1,000 for half a gram.
EU Leaders to Sidestep Lisbon Treaty Rule 2013 05 22
The Lisbon Treaty clearly intends for the size of the European Commission to be reduced below its present size of 27 members. But EU leaders have reached unanimous agreement to sidestep the provision -- and even plan to add a seat to the table for the Croatians.
From the outside, it looks as though the European Union is hopelessly divided. Northern ...
The Soviet Story 2013 05 22
The Soviet Story is a 2008 documentary film about Soviet Communism and Soviet–German collaboration before 1941 written and directed by Edvīns Šnore and sponsored by the UEN Group in the European Parliament.
The film features interviews with western and Russian historians such as Norman Davies and Boris Sokolov, Russian writer Viktor Suvorov, Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, members of the European Parliament ...
Inferno Author Dan Brown ’Honoured’ to be Invited to Join Freemasons 2013 05 22 The Freemasons’ Code: Dan Brown reveals the message that told him the door to the lodge is open.
His best-selling novels illuminate the shadowy organisations that supposedly run the world. But Dan Brown was “honoured” to receive an invitation to join the Freemasons, the arcane fraternity whose tentacles are said to extend into the highest echelons of power.
Tonight the Da Vinci ...
New EU law that could ban all seeds 2013 05 22
Seed lovers, growers and local producers could all be harmed under the proposed Regulation on Marketing of Plant Reproductive Material by the EU. Sign this petition and email the decision makers to stop this happening.
A New Seed Law will go before the EU commissioners on May 6th 2013.
The Regulation on Marketing of Plant Reproductive Material law will mean no ...
Guatemala’s top court overturns ex-dictator’s genocide conviction 2013 05 22 Guatemala’s top court has thrown another curve into the genocide case of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, overturning his conviction and ordering that the trial be taken back to the middle of the proceedings.
The ruling late Monday threw into disarray a process that had been hailed as historic for delivering the first guilty verdict for genocide against a former Latin ...