Ovarian cancer is the most fatal of gynaecological malignancies, usually detected at a late stage with intraperitoneal dissemination. Appropriate preclinical models are needed that recapitulate both the histopathological and molecular features of human ovarian cancer for drug-efficacy analysis.
Longitudinal studies comparing cisplatin performance either alone or in a novel cisplatin-based delivery-system, cucurbituril-encapsulated cisplatin (cisplatin@CB) were performed on subcutaneous (s.c.) and intraperitoneal (i.p.) xenografts using the human ovarian cancer cell line A2780 stably expressing the small GTPase Rab25, which allows A2780 intraperitoneal growth; and luciferase, to allow tumour load measurement by non-invasive bioluminescent imaging.
Rab25 expression induced cisplatin resistance compared to the parental cell line as assessed by the MTT assay in vitro. These findings did not translate in vivo, where cisplatin resistance was determined by the microenvironment. Subcutaneous xenografts of either parental A2780 or cisplatin-resistant Rab25-expressing A2780 cells presented similar responses to cisplatin treatment. In contrast, increased cisplatin resistance was only detected in i.p. tumours. Treatment of the cisplatin-resistant i.p. model with the novel cisplatin@CB delivery system resulted in a substantial reduction of i.p. tumour load and increased necrosis.
Poor clinical performance of novel chemotherapeutics might reflect inappropriate preclinical models. Here we present an ovarian i.p. model that recapitulates the histopathological and chemoresistant features of the clinical disease. In addition, we demonstrate that the novel cisplatin-delivery system, cisplatin@CB may have utility in the treatment of drug-resistant ovarian human cancers.
Over the past two decades, researchers have increasingly used human biospecimens to evaluate hypotheses related to disease risk, outcomes and treatment. We conducted an analysis of population-science cancer research grants funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to gain a more comprehensive understanding of biospecimens and common derivatives involved in those studies and identify opportunities for advancing the field. Data available for 1,018 extramural, peer-reviewed grants (active as of July 2012) supported by the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), the NCI Division that supports cancer control and population-science extramural research grants, were analyzed. 455 of the grants were determined to involve biospecimens or derivatives. The most common specimen types included were whole blood (51% of grants), serum or plasma (40%), tissue (39%), and the biospecimen derivative, DNA (66%). While use of biospecimens in molecular epidemiology has become common, biospecimens for behavioral and social research is emerging, as observed in our analysis. Additionally, we found the majority of grants were using already existing biospecimens (63%). Grants that involved use of existing biospecimens resulted in lower costs (studies that used existing serum/plasma biospecimens were 4.2 times less expensive) and more publications per year (1.4 times) than grants collecting new biospecimens. This analysis serves as a first step at understanding the types of biospecimen collections supported by NCI DCCPS. There is room to encourage increased use of archived biospecimens and new collections of rarer specimen and cancer types, as well as for behavioral and social research. To facilitate these efforts, we are working to better catalogue our funded resources and make that data available to the extramural community.
A new procedure for room-temperature storage of DNA was evaluated whereby DNA samples from human tissue, bacteria, and plants were stored under an anoxic and anhydrous atmosphere in small glass vials fitted in stainless-steel, laser-sealed capsules (DNAshells®). Samples were stored in DNAshells® at room temperature for various periods of time to assess any degradation and compare it to frozen control samples and those stored in GenTegra™ tubes. The study included analysis of the effect of accelerated aging by using a high temperature (76°C) at 50% relative humidity. No detectable DNA degradation was seen in samples stored in DNAshells® at room temperature for 18 months. Polymerase chain reaction experiments, pulsed field gel electrophoresis, and amplified fragment length polymorphism analyses also demonstrated that the protective properties of DNAshells® are not affected by storage under extreme conditions (76°C, 50% humidity) for 30 hours, guaranteeing 100 years without DNA sample degradation. However, after 30 hours of storage at 76°C, it was necessary to include adjustments to the process in order to avoid DNA loss. Successful protection of DNA was obtained for 1 week and even 1 month of storage at high temperature by adding trehalose, which provides a protective matrix. This study demonstrates the many advantages of using DNAshells® for room-temperature storage, particularly in terms of long-term stability, safety, transport, and applications for molecular biology research.
A paucity of information exists on the recruitment of Asian Americans for biospecimen research. Although studies show that Chinese Americans are at high risk for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, little is known about their willingness to participate in HBV-related biospecimen research and how knowledge, attitudes, and cultural factors impact their willingness to participate. The study was guided by Community-Based Participatory Research principles. Data were derived from an assessment study on HBV-related biospecimen research participation among Chinese Americans in the Philadelphia region. The assessment was conducted with 415 Chinese Americans recruited from eight Chinese community-based organizations. Cultural beliefs, knowledge, and attitudes toward biospecimen research were examined for associations with their willingness to participate in biospecimen banking research. Overall, 192 (46.3%) of 415 participants who completed the assessment indicated they were willing to participate if they were invited to donate blood to be frozen and stored for future HBV biospecimen studies. Cultural variables significant in bivariate analysis included collectivism, knowledge about biospecimen research, and Yin-Yang beliefs. Fatalism and individualism were not associated with participation willingness. In multivariate analysis, age, health care attitudes, and trust were significantly associated with willingness to participate in biospecimen banking research. Asian American communities have little knowledge of biospecimen banking and will benefit from educational campaigns that emphasize collective benefits and attitudes towards and trust in the health care system. Understanding cultural factors is important for improving Chinese Americans' knowledge, awareness, and intentions of participation in biospecimen research. Similar efforts need to be undertaken to develop culturally appropriate educational intervention programs to increase participation in biospecimen research among other Asian American groups.
Background: Current national and international policies emphasize the need to develop research initiatives within our health care system. Institutional biobanking represents a modern, large-scale research initiative that is reliant upon the support of several aspects of the health care organization. This research project aims to explore doctors' views on the concept of institutional biobanking and to gain insight into the factors which impact the development of research initiatives within healthcare systems.
Methods: Qualitative research study using semi-structured interviews. The research was conducted across two public teaching hospitals in Sydney, Australia where institutional biobanking was being introduced. Twenty-five participants were interviewed, of whom 21 were medical practitioners at the specialist trainee level or above in a specialty directly related to biobanking; four were key stakeholders responsible for the design and implementation of the biobanking initiative.
Results: All participants strongly supported the concept of institutional biobanking. Participants highlighted the discordance between the doctors who work to establish the biobank (the contributors) and the researchers who use it (the consumers). Participants identified several barriers that limit the success of research initiatives in the hospital setting including: the ‘resistance to change’ culture; the difficulties in engaging health professionals in research initiatives; and the lack of incentives offered to doctors for their contribution. Doctors positively valued the opportunity to advise the implementation team, and felt that the initiative could benefit from their knowledge and expertise.
Conclusion: Successful integration of research initiatives into hospitals requires early collaboration between the implementing team and the health care professionals to produce a plan that is sensitive to the needs of the health professionals and tailored to the hospital setting. Research initiatives must consider incentives that encourage doctors to adopt operational responsibility for hospital research initiatives.
Little is known about how cancer patients feel about donating their tissue, especially in a multiethnic population. Structured interviews were conducted with 30 patients recently diagnosed with cancer, referred to the study by six cancer surgeons and oncologists and by other patients in the study. The participants reported a variety of cancers, and the sample reflected the racial distribution of Hawai`i, including Caucasians (23%), Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (27%), Asians (37%), Hispanics (7%), Native Americans (3%), and African Americans (3%). The interview questions and analysis were guided by the Framework Approach, with interview questions based on pre-set aims. Findings suggest that most cancer patients would donate cancer tissue to science, especially if informed that doing so could help researchers find causes of and cures for cancer. Patients varied on when in their cancer journey they would be most receptive to being asked for a donation, however two-thirds thought they would be more receptive if approached after surgery. Only three of the 30 patients said they would want to be re-consented each time their tissue is requested for research. They identified their physician as the preferred messenger regarding tissue donation. No obvious differences were seen by race. Findings confirm those of other researchers who have reported broad support for biobank participation if informed consent and confidentiality could be assured. Given that the physician was seen as the key messenger about biobanking, more education is needed around cancer tissue collection for physicians, as well as for cancer patients.
This report makes the case for clinical biospecimens to be certified for nominal properties, in particular the diagnosis, and to attain the level of Reference Materials. Clinical certified biospecimens that are collected, processed, characterized, stored, and distributed by biobanks are urgently needed to facilitate diagnostic test development, evaluation, and quality assurance. Four examples are provided to illustrate this purpose and the certification approaches that could be applied are proposed.
A reliable, cryoprotective, xeno-free medium suitable for different cell types is highly desirable in regenerative medicine. There is danger of infection or allergic reaction with the use of fetal bovine serum (FBS), making it problematic for medical applications. The aim of the present study was to develop an FBS-free cryoprotective medium for human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs; primary cells) and immortalized human osteoblasts (SAOS-2 cell line). Furthermore, we endeavored to eliminate or reduce the presence of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) in the medium. Sericin, a sticky protein derived from the silkworm cocoon, was investigated as a substitute for FBS and DMSO in the freezing medium. Cell viability (24 hours after thawing, both hMSC and SAOS-2) and colony-forming ability (2 weeks after thawing, only for hMSCs) were both determined. The FBS-free medium with 1% sericin in 10% DMSO was found to be a suitable freezing medium for primary hMSCs, in contrast to immortalized human osteoblasts. Surprisingly, the storage of hMSCs in a cultivation medium with only 10% DMSO also provided satisfactory results. Any drop in DMSO concentration led to significantly worse survival of cells, with little improvement in hMSC survival in the presence of sericin. Thus, sericin may substitute for FBS in the freezing medium for primary hMSCs, but cannot substitute for DMSO.
Each year funding agencies and academic institutions spend millions of dollars and euros on biobanking. All funding providers assume that after initial investments biobanks should be able to operate sustainably. However the topic of sustainability is challenging for the discipline of biobanking for several major reasons: the diversity in the biobanking landscape, the different purposes of biobanks, the fact that biobanks are dissimilar to other research infrastructures and the absence of universally understood or applicable value metrics for funders and other stakeholders. In this article our aim is to delineate a framework to allow more effective discussion and action around approaches for improving biobank sustainability. The term sustainability is often used to mean fiscally self-sustaining, but this restricted definition is not sufficient for biobanking. Instead we propose that biobank sustainability should be considered within a framework of three dimensions – financial, operational, and social. In each dimension, areas of focus or elements are identified that may allow different types of biobanks to distinguish and evaluate the relevance, likelihood, and impact of each element, as well as the risks to the biobank of failure to address them. Examples of practical solutions, tools and strategies to address biobank sustainability are also discussed.
The high burden of infectious diseases and the growing problem of noncommunicable and metabolic disease syndromes in South Africa (SA) forces a more focused research approach to facilitate cutting-edge scientific growth and public health development. Increased SA research on these diseases and syndromes and the collection of associated biospecimens has ensured a plethora of biobanks created by individuals, albeit without the foresight of prospective and collective use by other local and international researchers. As the need for access to high-quality specimens in statistically relevant numbers has increased, so has the necessity for the development of national human biobanks in SA and across the Continent. The prospects of achieving sustainable centralized biobanks are still an emerging and evolving concept, primarily and recently driven by the launch of the H3Africa consortium, which includes the development of harmonized and standardized biobanking operating procedures. This process is hindered by a myriad of complex societal considerations and ethico-legal challenges. Efforts to consolidate and standardize biological sample collections are further compromised by the lack of full appreciation by national stakeholders of the biological value inherent in these collections, and the availability of high quality human samples with well-annotated data for future scientific research and development. Inadequate or nonexistent legislative structures that specifically regulate the storage, use, dispersal, and disposal of human biological samples are common phenomena and pose further challenges. Furthermore, concerns relating to consent for unspecified future uses, as well as access to information and data protection, are all new paradigms that require further consideration and public engagement. This article reviews important fundamental issues such as governance, ethics, infrastructure, and bioinformatics that are important foundational prerequisites for the establishment and evolution of successful human biobanking in South Africa.
Our prior work has shown that microwave processing can be effective as a method for dehydrating cell-based suspensions in preparation for anhydrous storage, yielding homogenous samples with predictable and reproducible drying times. In the current work an optimized microwave-based drying process was developed that expands upon this previous proof-of-concept. Utilization of a commercial microwave (CEM SAM 255, Matthews, NC) enabled continuous drying at variable low power settings. A new turntable was manufactured from Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW-PE; Grainger, Lake Forest, IL) to provide for drying of up to 12 samples at a time. The new process enabled rapid and simultaneous drying of multiple samples in containment devices suitable for long-term storage and aseptic rehydration of the sample. To determine sample repeatability and consistency of drying within the microwave cavity, a concentration series of aqueous trehalose solutions were dried for specific intervals and water content assessed using Karl Fischer Titration at the end of each processing period. Samples were dried on Whatman S-14 conjugate release filters (Whatman, Maidestone, UK), a glass fiber membrane used currently in clinical laboratories. The filters were cut to size for use in a 13 mm Swinnex® syringe filter holder (Millipore™, Billerica, MA). Samples of 40 μL volume could be dehydrated to the equilibrium moisture content by continuous processing at 20% with excellent sample-to-sample repeatability. The microwave-assisted procedure enabled high throughput, repeatable drying of multiple samples, in a manner easily adaptable for drying a wide array of biological samples. Depending on the tolerance for sample heating, the drying time can be altered by changing the power level of the microwave unit.
Human tissue biobanks are at the epicenter of clinical research, responsible for providing both clinical samples and annotated data. There is a need for large numbers of samples to provide statistical power to research studies, especially since treatment and diagnosis are becoming ever more personalized. A single biobank cannot provide sufficient numbers of samples to capture the full spectrum of any disease. Currently there is no infrastructure in the United Kingdom (UK) to integrate biobanks. Therefore the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Confederation of Cancer Biobanks (CCB) Working Group 3 looked to establish a data standard to enable biobanks to communicate about the samples they hold and so facilitate the formation of an integrated national network of biobanks. The Working Group examined the existing data standards available to biobanks, such as the MIABIS standard, and compared these to the aims of the working group. The CCB-developed data standard has brought many improvements: (1) Where existing data standards have been developed, these have been incorporated, ensuring compatibility with other initiatives; (2) the standard was written with the expectation that it will be extended for specific disease areas, such as the Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank (BCCTB) and the Strategic Tissue Repository Alliances Through Unified Methods (STRATUM) project; and (3) biobanks will be able to communicate about specific samples, as well as aggregated statistics.
The development of this data standard will allow all biobanks to integrate and share information about the samples they hold, facilitating the possibility of a national portal for researchers to find suitable samples for research. In addition, the data standard will allow other clinical services, such as disease registries, to communicate with biobanks in a standardized format allowing for greater cross-discipline data sharing.
Effective tracking of biospecimens within a biobank requires that each biospecimen has a unique identifier (ID). This ID can be found on the sample container as well as in the biospecimen management system. In the latter, the biospecimen ID is the key to annotation data such as location, quality, and sample processing. Guidelines such as the Best Practices from the International Society of Biological and Environmental Repositories only state that a unique identifier should be issued for each sample. However, to our knowledge, all guidelines lack a specific description of how to actually generate such an ID and how this can be supported by an IT system. Here, we provide a guide for biobankers on how to generate a biospecimen ID for your biobank. We also provide an example of how to apply this guide using a longitudinal multi-center research project (and its biobank). Starting with a description of the biobank's purpose and workflows through to collecting requirements from stakeholders and relevant documents (i.e., guidelines or data protection concepts), and existing IT-systems, we describe in detail how a concept to develop an ID system can be developed from this information. The concept contains two parts: one is the generation of the biospecimen ID according to the requirements of stakeholders, existing documentation such as guidelines or data protection concepts, and existing IT-infrastructures, and the second is the implementation of the biospecimen IDs and related functionalities covering the handling of individual biospecimens within an existing biospecimen management system. From describing the concept, the article moves on to how the new concept supports both existing or planned biobank workflows. Finally, the implementation and validation step is outlined to the reader and practical hints are provided for each step.
Human biospecimens are central to biobanking efforts, yet how members of the public think about biobank procurement strategies is not well understood. This study aimed to explore public perspectives toward the procurement of residual clinical material versus “direct” procurement strategies such as the drawing of blood.
Members of the public residing in and beyond the biobank catchment area of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics were randomly selected to participate in focus groups and a telephone survey.
The majority of survey participants (75%, n=559) found both residual and direct procurement strategies equally workable. Small proportions preferred either residual (15%; n=117) or direct (5%; n=40) procurement. Focus group participants (n=48) could identify benefits to both procurement strategies, but raised concerns about possible donor inconvenience/discomfort and reduced biospecimen accrual in the case of direct procurement. Residual procurement raised concerns about lower-quality samples being procured without full donor awareness.
Biobanks should consider that members of the public in their research programs may be willing to make specimen donations regardless of whether a residual or direct procurement strategy is employed. Limiting patient discomfort and inconvenience may make direct procurement strategies more acceptable to some members of the public. Ensuring donor awareness through effective informed consent may allay public concerns about the indirectness of donating clinical biospecimens.
Human biospecimens represent invaluable resources to advance molecular medicine, epidemiology, and biomarker discovery/validation, among other biomedical research. Biobanks typically cryopreserve biospecimens to safeguard their biochemical composition. However, exposing specimens repeatedly to freeze/thaw cycles can degrade their integrity in unforeseen ways. Those biobanks storing liquid samples, thus, regularly make a fundamental compromise at collection time between freezing samples in many small volumes (e.g., 0.5 mL or smaller) or in fewer, larger volumes (e.g., 1.8 mL). The former eliminates the need to expose samples to repeated freeze/thaw cycling, although increasing up-front labor costs, consumables used, and cold storage space requirements. The latter decreases up-front labor costs, consumables, and cold storage requirements, yet exposes samples repeatedly to damaging freeze/thaw cycles when smaller aliquots are needed for analysis. The Rhode Island BioBank at Brown University (RIBB) thoroughly evaluated the performance of an original technology that minimizes a sample's exposure to freeze/thaw cycling by enabling the automated extraction of frozen aliquots from one single frozen parent sample without thawing it. A technology that eliminates unnecessary sample exposures to freeze/thaw cycles could help protect sample integrity, extend its useful life, and effectively rectify and eliminate the aforementioned need to compromise. This report presents the results of the evaluation, and conclusively demonstrates the technology's ability to extract multiple uniform frozen aliquots from a single cryotube of never-thawed frozen human plasma, which faithfully represent the parent sample when analyzed for typical biochemical analytes, showing a coefficient of variability lower than 5.5%.
Pre-analytical conditions are key factors in maintaining the high quality of biospecimens. They are necessary for accurate reproducibility of experiments in the field of biomarker discovery as well as achieving optimal specificity of laboratory tests for clinical diagnosis. In research at the National Biobank of Korea, we evaluated the impact of pre-analytical conditions on the stability of biobanked blood samples by measuring biochemical analytes commonly used in clinical laboratory tests.
We measured 10 routine laboratory analytes in serum and plasma samples from healthy donors (n=50) with a chemistry autoanalyzer (Hitachi 7600-110). The analyte measurements were made at different time courses based on delay of blood fractionation, freezing delay of fractionated serum and plasma samples, and at different cycles (0, 1, 3, 6, 9) of freeze-thawing. Statistically significant changes from the reference sample mean were determined using the repeated-measures ANOVA and the significant change limit (SCL).
The serum levels of GGT and LDH were changed significantly depending on both the time interval between blood collection and fractionation and the time interval between fractionation and freezing of serum and plasma samples. The glucose level was most sensitive only to the elapsed time between blood collection and centrifugation for blood fractionation. Based on these findings, a simple formula (glucose decrease by 1.387 mg/dL per hour) was derived to estimate the length of time delay after blood collection. In addition, AST, BUN, GGT, and LDH showed sensitive responses to repeated freeze-thaw cycles of serum and plasma samples.
These results suggest that GGT and LDH measurements can be used as quality control markers for certain pre-analytical conditions (eg, delayed processing or repeated freeze-thawing) of blood samples which are either directly used in the laboratory tests or stored for future research in the biobank.
Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) material presents a readily available resource in the study of various biomarkers. There has been interest in whether the storage period has significant effect on the extracted macromolecules. Thus, in this study, we investigated if the storage period had an effect on the quantity/quality of the extracted nucleic acids and proteins. We systematically examined the quality/quantity of genomic DNA, total RNA, and total protein in the FFPE blocks of malignant tumors of lung, thyroid, and salivary gland that had been stored over several years. We show that there is no significant difference between macromolecules extracted from blocks stored over 11–12 years, 5–7 years, or 1–2 years in comparison to the current year blocks.
Research studies aimed at advancing cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment depend on a number of key resources, including a ready supply of high-quality annotated biospecimens from diverse ethnic populations that can be used to test new drugs, assess the validity of prognostic biomarkers, and develop tailor-made therapies. In November 2011, KHCCBIO was established at the King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC) with the support of Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) funding from the European Union (khccbio.khcc.jo). KHCCBIO was developed for the purpose of achieving an ISO accredited cancer biobank through the collection, processing, and preservation of high-quality, clinically annotated biospecimens from consenting cancer patients, making it the first cancer biobank of its kind in Jordan. The establishment of a state-of-the-art, standardized biospecimen repository of matched normal and lung tumor tissue, in addition to blood components such as serum, plasma, and white blood cells, was achieved through the support and experience of its European partners, Trinity College Dublin, Biostór Ireland, and accelopment AG. To date, KHCCBIO along with its partners, have worked closely in establishing an ISO Quality Management System (QMS) under which the biobank will operate. A Quality Policy Manual, Validation, and Training plan have been developed in addition to the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for consenting policies on ethical issues, data privacy, confidentiality, and biobanking bylaws. SOPs have also been drafted according to best international practices and implemented for the donation, procurement, processing, testing, preservation, storage, and distribution of tissues and blood samples from lung cancer patients, which will form the basis for the procurement of other cancer types. KHCCBIO will be the first ISO accredited cancer biobank from a diverse ethnic Middle Eastern and North African population. It will provide a unique and valuable resource of high-quality human biospecimens and anonymized clinicopathological data to the cancer research communities world-wide.
Hepatocytes are critical for numerous cell therapies and in vitro investigations. A limiting factor for their use in these applications is the ability to process and preserve them without loss of viability or functionality. Normal rat hepatocytes (NHEPs) and human hepatoma (C3A) cells were stored at either 4°C or 37°C to examine post-processing stress responses. Resveratrol and salubrinal were used during storage to determine how targeted molecular stress pathway modulation would affect cell survival. This study revealed that storage outcome is dependent upon numerous factors including: cell type, storage media, storage length, storage temperature, and chemical modulator. These data implicate a molecular-based stress response that is not universal but is specific to the set of conditions under which cells are stored. Further, these findings allude to the potential for targeted protection or destruction of particular cell types for numerous applications, from diagnostic cell selection to cell-based therapy. Ultimately, this study demonstrates the need for further in-depth molecular investigations into the cellular stress response to bioprocessing and preservation.
Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is one of the leading causes of death world-wide. Donor-derived pancreas and Islet of Langerhans transplantation are potential cures; however, postmortem ischemia impacts islet quality. The murine βt3 cell line was employed as a model to study cell viability and proliferation after hypothermic storage by comparing Belzer's Machine Perfusion Solution with Unisol™ Solution. The objective was to determine which of these solutions provided the best base line support for βt3 cells and to screen potential cytoprotective additives to the solutions. Initial βt3 cell viability was similar in the two storage solutions; however, better proliferation was observed after storage in Unisol Solution. The caspase inhibitor, Q-VD-OPH, and α-tocopherol improved viability in both storage solutions, suggesting that apoptotic pathways may be responsible for cell death during hypothermic storage of βt3 cells. Analysis of apoptosis markers, caspase activity, and DNA laddering showed a reduction in apoptosis when these additives were included. The effects of Q-VD-OPH and α-tocopherol were also synergistic when employed together during either hypothermic exposure, post-hypothermic physiologic incubation, or combinations of hypothermic exposure and physiologic incubation. These results suggest that both supplements should be included in pancreas hypothermic storage solutions and in islet culture media during post-isolation culture prior to transplantation.
Background: Today, no consensus exists regarding how human tissues are best preserved for long-term storage. Very low temperature storage in liquid nitrogen is often advocated as the superlative method for extended periods, but storage in −80 degrees Celsius (−80°C) freezers, while sometimes debated, is a possible alternative. RNA is the most easily degradable component of a biological sample in a molecular biology context and the quality can reliably be measured.
Aim: To investigate to what extent long-term storage of tissues in −80°C affects the RNA quality and overall histomorphology. The tissue storage period represents nearly three decades (1986–2013).
Methods: RNA extraction from 153 tissue samples with different storage periods was performed with the mirVana kit (Invitrogen). RNA integrity was assessed using an Agilent bioanalyzer to obtain RNA integrity numbers (RIN). Further, tissue representative testing using light microscopy was performed by two pathologists to assess tissue composition and morphology.
Results: RIN values were measured in all samples, showing a variability that did not correlate with the storage time of the tissues. Microscopically, all samples displayed acceptable tissue morphology regardless of storage time.
Conclusion: Long-term storage in −80°C does not adversely affect the quality of the RNA extracted from the stored tissues, and the tissue morphology is maintained to a good standard.
As part of a larger organizational study, we sought to survey biobanks in the United States. However, we encountered two problems with this population. First, no common definition of biobanks exists. Second, no census is available of these facilities from which to sample in order to implement a survey. In light of these problems, we employed a multifaceted approach using electronic searches of PubMed, RePORTER, and Google. In addition, we systematically searched for biobanks housed within universities that have NIH-designated Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA). We expanded this part of the search by looking for biobanks among all members of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). Finally, we added banks to our database found previously by other researchers and banks found via correspondence with our colleagues. Our search strategy produced a database of 624 biobanks for which we were able to confirm contact information in order to conduct our online survey. Another 140 biobanks were identified but did not respond to our requests to confirm their existence or contact information. In order to maximize both the uniqueness of banks found and the greatest return on effort for each search, we suggest targeting resources that are already organized. In our work, these included the CTSA, AAMC, and part of the Google searches. We contend that our search provides a model for analysis of new fields of research and/or rapidly evolving industries. Furthermore, our approach demonstrates that with the appropriate tools it is possible to develop a systematic and comprehensive database to investigate undefined populations.
Biorepositories offer tremendous scientific value to a wide variety of customer groups (academic, commercial, industrial) in their ability to deliver a centralized, standardized service model, encompassing both biospecimen storage and related laboratory services. Generally, the scientific expertise and economies of scale that are offered in centralized, properly resourced research biobanks has yielded value that has been well-recognized by universities, pharmaceutical companies, and other sponsoring institutions. However, like many facets of the economy, biobanks have been under increasing cost pressure in recent years. This has been a particular problem in the academic arena, where direct support from grant sources (both governmental and philanthropic) typically now is more difficult to secure, or provides reduced financial support, relative to previous years. One way to address this challenge is to establish or enhance a well-defined fee-for-service model which is properly calibrated to cover operational costs while still offering competitive value to users. In this model, customers are never charged for the biospecimens themselves, but rather for the laboratory services associated with them. Good communication practices, proper assessment of value, implementation of best practices, and a sound business plan are all needed for this initiative to succeed. Here we summarize our experiences at Washington University School of Medicine in the expectation they will be useful to others.
Well-characterized, high-quality fresh-frozen prostate tissue is required for prostate cancer research. As part of the PROCURE Prostate Cancer Biobank launched in 2007, four University Hospitals in Quebec joined to bank fresh frozen prostate tissues from radical prostatectomies (RP). As the biobank progressed towards allocation, the nature and quality of the tissues were determined. RP tissues were collected by standardized alternate mirror-image or biopsy-based targeted methods, and frozen for banking. Clinical/pathological parameters were captured. For quality control, two presumed benign and two presumed cancerous frozen, biobanked tissue blocks per case (10/site) were randomly selected during the five years of collection. In a consensus meeting, 4 pathologists blindly evaluated slides (n=160) and graded quality, Gleason score (GS), and size of cancer foci. The quality of tissue RNA (37/40 cases) was assessed using the RNA Integrity Number. The biobank included 1819 patients of mean age: 62.1 years; serum PSA: 8ng/ml; prostate weight: 47.8 g; GS: 7; and pathological stage: T2 in 64.5%, T3A in 25.5% and T3B in 10% of cases. Of the 157 evaluable slides, 79 and 78 had benign and cancer tissue, respectively. GS for the 37 cancer-positive cases were: 6 in 9, 7 in 18 and >7 in 10 and, in most instances, in concordance with final GS. In 40% of slides containing cancer, foci occupied ≥50% of block surface and 42% had a diameter ≥1 cm. Tissue was well preserved and consistently yielded RNA of very good quality with RNA Integrity Number (RIN) >7 for 97% of cases (mean=8.7±0.7) during the five-year collection period. This study confirms the high quality of randomly selected benign and cancerous fresh-frozen prostate tissues of the PROCURE Quebec Prostate Cancer Biobank. These results strengthen the uniqueness of this large prospective resource for prostate cancer research.
Purpose: Biospecimen-based research offers tremendous promise as a way to increase understanding of the molecular epidemiology of cancers. Population-based cancer registries can augment this research by providing more clinical detail and long-term follow-up information than is typically available from biospecimen annotations. In order to demonstrate the feasibility of this concept, we performed a pilot linkage between the California Cancer Registry (CCR) and the University of California, Davis Cancer Center Biorepository (UCD CCB) databases to determine if we could identify patients with records in both databases. Methods: We performed a probabilistic data linkage between 2180 UCD CCB biospecimen records collected during the years 2005–2009 and all CCR records for cancers diagnosed from 1988–2009 based on standard data linkage procedures. Results: The 1040 UCD records with a unique medical record number, tissue site, and pathology date were linked to 3.3 million CCR records. Of these, 844 (81.2%) were identified in both databases. Overall, record matches were highest (100%) for cancers of the cervix and testis/other male genital system organs. For the most common cancers, matches were highest for cancers of the lung and respiratory system (93%), breast (91.7%), and colon and rectum (89.5%), and lower for prostate (72.9%). Conclusions: This pilot linkage demonstrated that information on existing biospecimens from a cancer center biorepository can be linked successfully to cancer registry data. Linkages between existing biorepositories and cancer registries can foster productive collaborations and provide a foundation for virtual biorepository networks to support population-based biospecimen research.