Cancer research relies on access to samples of patient tissue to confirm findings from cell cultures, animal tests and computer models.
The more information associated with these samples the better; it helps us to understand how differences in patient genetics and the environment (both inside and outside the body) can affect treatment outcomes.
Restricted access to well-annotated breast cancer samples – that is, tissue samples coupled with information about diagnosis, family history, treatments and long-term outcome – has been identified as a significant limitation in breast cancer research and barrier to the bench-to-bedside philosophy.
The Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank (BCCTB) is the UK's first national cancer tissue bank developed in a collaboration between core academic centres of excellence in breast cancer research across the UK, in partnership with the NHS.
This widely available breast cancer-specific biobank boasts its own purpose-built bioinformatics platform: the BCCTB bioinformatics portal (BCCTBbp), which was developed by the Bioinformatics team here at BCI.
BCI Bioinformatics group: (L-R) Claude Chelala, Ajanthah Sangaralingam, Jun Wang, Dayem Ullah, Ai Nagano, Phil Carter, Afonso Guerra, Emanuela Gadaleta and Jacek Marzec
Complementarity - using and comparing different types of data together to gather more information - shows how biology and bioinformatics can be used together to improve research.
Dr Claude Chelala said:
"BCCTBbp will allow breast cancer researchers to access, mine and integrate cancer data from multiple studies and technologies before applying for tissues.
The resulting multi-dimensional view of the data paints a more complete portrait of the cancer in question."
While already undoubtedly an invaluable resource, the full potential of the symbiotic relationship between the Tissue Bank and bioinformatics portal will be unlocked as more experimental data from BCCTB-provided samples is returned and stored alongside the corresponding clinical information, and the analytical functionalities expanded and refined.
BCCTBbp: the Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank bioinformatics portal
RJ Cutts, JA Guerra-Assuncao, E Gadaleta, AZD Ullah, C Chelala. Nucl. Acids Res. (2015) 43 (D1): D831-D836. PMID: 25332396
The BCCTB bioinformatics portal also features in the following publication:
Investment biobanking—increased returns from tissue samples
Speirs V, Morgan A. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. (2013) 10, 128-129. PMID: 23381001