What is a Tissue Bank Consortium?
A Tissue Bank Consortium is a collaborative platform that provides researchers with access to high-quality cancer tissues and blood samples from patients.
The current era of cancer genomics involves research projects (and subsequent treatments) that are dependent on reliable biospecimens. In fact, tumor biospecimens are considered the key components of the molecular-medicine universe. However, a lack of access to high-quality cancer tissues remains a major obstacle worldwide and collective consortiums help alleviate that problem.
NFCR built the Tissue Bank Consortium in Asia in 2006 because, in Asia, there has been a unique opportunity to collaborate with the United States (and other countries) in the creation of large-scale biorepositories.
In China, over three million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year (almost twice that of the United States). This large patient base, in addition to the relatively low costs associated with tissue collection and storage, provides great potential for collaboration.
NFCR established the Joint Tissue Banking Facility at Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital as the flagship member of the Tissue Bank Consortium in Asia. There, they collected and stored cancer tissues with annotated clinical information, as well as conducted a research project on gastric cancer – the fourth most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the world. They used genome-sequencing technology to analyze hundreds of gastric cancer tissue samples and discovered that defects in three cellular-signaling pathways (BRCA2, Wnt and PI3-K-ERBB4) might improve the response of gastric cancers to therapy. Several newly-developed drugs that target these pathways have already been tested in other cancer types, such as breast and ovarian cancers.
As of 2016, the biorepository contained over 54,500 fresh frozen tissue samples and over 77,700 blood samples. The project is currently on hold, as regulations for tissue collections in different countries are being reassessed.