Investigating the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying brain disorders is a priority if novel therapeutic strategies are to be developed. In vivo studies of animal models and in vitro studies of cell lines/primary cell cultures may provide useful tools to study certain aspects of brain disorders. However, discrepancies among these studies or unsuccessful translation from animal/cell studies to human/clinical studies often occur, because these models generally represent only some symptoms of a neuropsychiatric disorder rather than the complete disorder. Human brain slice cultures from postmortem tissue or resected tissue from operations have shown that, in vitro, neurons and glia can stay alive for long periods of time, while their morphological and physiological characteristics, and their ability to respond to experimental manipulations are maintained. Human brain slices can thus provide a close representation of neuronal networks in vivo, be a valuable tool for investigation of the basis of neuropsychiatric disorders, and provide a platform for the evaluation of novel pharmacological treatments of human brain diseases. A brain bank needs to provide the necessary infrastructure to bring together donors, hospitals, and researchers who want to investigate human brain slices in cultures of clinically and neuropathologically well-documented material.
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