The world’s first national tissue bank for pancreatic cancer has launched in the UK and was featured on BBC News yesterday. It is funded by the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (PCRF) and hosted here at BCI.
Our director, Prof. Nick Lemoine, said of its establishment:
“This may well be the most important development in resourcing UK pancreatic cancer research in a generation"
The PCRF Tissue Bank brings together surgeons, pathologists, oncologists, researchers and database experts to co-ordinate a national – and ultimately international - resource that will help to develop new treatments and bring these to patients much faster.
Its development has been driven by Prof. Kocher, who is both a pancreatic cancer researcher here and a consultant pancreas and liver surgeon at The Royal London hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust. He said:
“This is a highly ambitious venture, but one that is crucial to enabling researchers to investigate new treatments for this most lethal cancer.
"At the moment, we can help only a small proportion of patients with surgery. For the majority of those diagnosed, and for those who see their cancer return even after surgery, there’s very little else we can offer. The Tissue Bank will also help us to tackle this disease with earlier diagnosis.”
Watch this video filmed here by PCRF about the tissue bank to learn more:
Prof. Kocher added,
"Many proteins associated with pancreatic cancer are also found in blood, urine and saliva, so having these materials from patients alongside the tissue samples helps us to find ways to diagnose the disease at an earlier, curative stage”
The new facility uniquely stores tissue, blood and urine, and will shortly begin saliva collection. Samples are donated by consenting patients with diseases of the pancreas undergoing biopsy or surgery at partner hospitals in five cities initially: London, Southampton, Oxford, Leicester and Swansea.
All samples are pseudo-anonymised and are given a unique tissue bank number before being banked. Each donation is logged with detailed medical and, where possible, genetic information so that researchers can request exactly the right type of sample for their research.
Data generated by all research projects using Tissue Bank samples will be fed back into a bespoke database, and will be made freely available to the global research community, to inform and underpin their own research.
Left: Tissue Bank -80°C freezers. Right: Sponsors of the BCI tissue banks
The Tissue Bank is funded by £2 million from the UK research charity Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (PCRF). Its founder and CEO, Maggie Blanks, said:
“Researchers told us that progress was being held back by the scarcity of high-quality tissue samples on which they can test their ideas and validate their research. For research results to be more meaningful, the samples must be collected, handled and stored consistently, following strict procedures.
"A nationally co-ordinated tissue bank will not only ensure that more samples become available to researchers, but that these are quality controlled to provide a much better basis for the very best research to be carried out.
"It’s a huge commitment for the charity, but thanks to the generosity of our supporters we’ve been able to make it happen.”
Centre for Tumour Biology researchers in Prof. Kocher's lab