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Tissue banks provide a core facility that enable translational research to be undertaken on quality-assured patient-donated samples. These samples require clinical and pathological annotations to allow comparisons to be drawn between the research-generated data and the conventional pathological and clinical outcome parameters. The challenge is to develop a flexible database system to capture these parameters and to provide a statistical framework for automated analysis.
Various database solutions have been developed to capture the data at the numerous stages of research. A tissue banking platform allows complete tracking of samples as they are frozen, extracted and released, combined with an independent pathology database to capture the pathological and clinical outcome data for all breast cancer patients. This web-based interface allows the appointed research nurse to submit data as they are approved at the Multi Disciplinary Team Meetings. The patient records are also routinely checked to capture any data relating to disease recurrence, treatments and surgical procedures. A digital pathology database is also used to capture and store the tissue microarray results. All of these databases are then combined using another locally designed system, INSPIRE, which brings all the data together to perform statistical analyses and present the results via a user-friendly, web-based interface.
The various systems developed allow tissue-banked samples to be tracked throughout the research process and to be annotated with high-quality pathology and research-derived data. INSPIRE then completes the cycle by aggregating these data to perform statistical analyses and present these in a user-friendly, web-based interface. This allows the researcher to focus purely on generating high-quality research and enhancing our knowledge in breast cancer.