Researchers are Mining 100 Year Old Brains for DNA to Cure Mental Illnesses

It turns out the brains stored inside jars around the globe in some weird scientist’s basement can actually be used for something good. Researchers that study mental health disorders claim that DNA extracted from the brains can assist them in finding cures – if they can figure out how to extract it first.

The researchers stated that the brains stored since the early 1900’s can sever as a type of brain health archive full of information that is no longer available in our modern day brains.

The Indiana Medical History Museum has hundreds of preserved brains and brain chunks that have been taken from mentally ill patients and people who have died from natural causes. Indiana University pathologists’ have been trying to extract the DNA from these brain chunks. They are trying to find a gene that is responsible for causing metal disorders, like Schizophrenia, or Bipolar disorders. Scientific American stated that certain gene variants are thought to be related to schizophrenia, but so far scientists have been unable to isolate the mutated gene.

SciAm stated that now days, a mentally ill persons brain is difficult to find, autopsies are not as common now as they were in the past, and the schools and laboratories that have these “ill” brains tend to keep them for themselves and guard them very carefully.

They hope that by studying brains preserved in jars, they’ll be able to learn more about how our brain works, they are trying to find the gene to cure most mental illnesses, if they succeed at Extracting the DNA and RNA from these jar-brains, they’ll be able to get one step further into finally figuring out how our gray mass actually works.

[Scientific American]