CORE Contributes First Brain Tissue for Groundbreaking Autism Study
–Federally Funded Project Will Help Accelerate Pace of Autism Research–
PITTSBURGH, June 9, 2016 – Autism spectrum disorders, a group of complex disorders of brain development, affect one in 68 children, according to autism advocacy organization Autism Speaks.
The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), a federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO) serving Pennsylvania, West Virginia and parts of New York, recently became the country’s first OPO to recover brain tissue for a new federally funded initiative to further the scientific community’s understanding of autism and accelerate the pace of future autism research.
Two donors in CORE’s service area contributed brain tissue to the Autism Brain Donation Initiative, a project funded through a $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. The project is also supported by Autism Speaks and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. LifeGift, an OPO based in Houston, also contributed brain tissue to the study.
“We are deeply honored to support to this study that will further understanding of autism, a condition with a ripple effect that touches so many people,” said Susan Stuart, president and CEO, CORE. “It’s an important thread of CORE’s mission. Through the deaths of their loved ones, these donor families are helping to answer some of science’s most pressing questions about autism.”
Dr. David Amaral of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), leads the study, which will compare the brains of 15 donors diagnosed with Autism to the brains of 15 healthy brains (control group) from donors ages 2 to 15 to explore developmental and environmental contributors to autism spectrum disorders.
Researchers from the University of Maryland’s Brain and Tissue Bank will fixate, digitally scan and process the tissue for further research and preservation. The brain tissue recovered will feed into the National Institutes of Health NeuroBioBank and the Autism BrainNet, two of the leading human brain tissue repositories in the U.S.
“Nobody really knows what causes autism, or if there’s a way to counter it, but we do know that it’s a brain disorder,” said Christopher Johns, a research and eye bank specialist for CORE who coordinates donation research. “That’s what makes this study so groundbreaking. Researchers will actually be able to study autism from the source for years to come.”
The Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) is one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States. CORE works closely with donor families and designated health care professionals to coordinate the surgical recovery of organs, tissues and corneas for transplantation. CORE also facilitates the computerized matching of donated organs and placement of corneas. With headquarters in Pittsburgh and an office in Charleston, West Virginia, CORE oversees a region that encompasses 155 hospitals and almost six million people throughout western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Chemung County, NY. For more information, visit core.org or call 1-800-DONORS-7.