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Autism brain freezer breakdown 'could set back research for decades'

Autism brain freezer breakdown 'could set back research for decades'
14th June 2012

Autism researchers are deeply concerned that the breakdown of a freezer used to store brain samples could delay progress for up to a decade.

The freezer at McLean Hospital broke down earlier this week, leading to the loss of around 150 brain samples from people who had died with conditions such as autism, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

Yale University Child Study Center director Dr Fred Volkmar explained: "We can't always know where the science is going to take us.

"In that respect, it's a horrible loss. The hope is that at least it's not a total disaster."

Another concern is for the families of brain donors, who would have made the often difficult decision to donate tissue samples of loved ones on the understanding they would make some contribution.

But with many of the compromised samples having turned dark with decay, there is little hope they will be put to any use.

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