[ASC-media] Donate your cancer

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Tue Sep 4 01:58:10 CEST 2007


Donate your cancer samples


Biobank to turn surgical waste into new opportunities to fight cancer


A unique resource for Australian cancer researchers


Launch/embargo 11 am Tuesday 4 September
at the Cancer Council Victoria, 100 Drummond Street, Carlton Victoria 3053


With Victorian Innovation Minister Gavin Jennings, donor and researchers
Beta sp file footage and photos available. 


The Victorian Cancer Biobank opens for business today


"You've just had surgery; your cancer's been removed. But instead of becoming biowaste, in less than two hours, samples from your cancer will have been processed and stored in liquid nitrogen."

"And over the following months, years, even decades, the cancer that gave you so much worry will become a vital source of information for the development of better cancer tests and treatments." 

That's the promise of the Victorian Cancer Biobank according to its chairman, Assoc Professor Geoff Lindeman.

"We are on the verge of a revolution in cancer diagnosis and treatment," he says. "Scientists are starting to identify which genes are turned on and off in individual cancers. And that's turning into new tests and treatments."

"For example: up to 25% of breast cancers express more of a certain gene that the drug Herceptin can target; and Glivec, another targeted therapy, has transformed the treatment of myeloid leukaemia."

"But new discoveries are urgently required to tackle many forms of cancer. For example, ovarian cancer is usually detected late in the course of the disease and all too often can be fatal. If researchers can discover genetic markers, then this could lead to a blood test for early diagnosis or to new therapies that improve patient outcomes.

To achieve this, cancer researchers need access to hundreds and sometimes thousands of cancer samples, and that's the role of the Victorian Cancer Biobank.

The Biobank will be opened today by the Victorian Minister for Innovation, Gavin Jennings. The Victorian Government has contributed $7 million to create the Biobank- building it on the combined expertise of existing biobanks at Austin Health, Melbourne Health, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Southern Health.

"The Biobank is unique," says Assoc Professor Ian Campbell, a cancer researcher at the Peter Mac. 

"It delivers high quality, ethically collected and approved samples, which are linked to anonymous clinical records that are part of another Victorian initiative (MMIM) that includes information on patient outcomes years after their cancer."

"And it's much easier, faster and cheaper than attempting to collect our own samples. Knowing we will have access to reliable, well documented samples allows us to plan to tackle big questions and get on with the research." 

The Biobank already has 1,000 donations collected during the start-up phase.

"If just one in 15 of Victoria's cancer patients agree to donate their samples, the Biobank will more than meet its target of 1,500 donations a year," says Professor David Hill AM, director of the Cancer Council Victoria. 

Bill Kennedy had surgery for a cancer in his salivary gland recently. "When the Biobank called I agreed to donate straight away," he says. "It was a chance to be involved, not just as a patient, but contributing to the fight against cancer. My cancer will be used for something useful, instead of just being discarded.

People who wish to donate don't need to take any action. "You will be invited to donate by your doctor or cancer nurse at the time of surgery. The Victorian Cancer Biobank will ensure that cancer treatment remains the first priority. However, where feasible - and only with patient consent - tissue that would have otherwise been discarded will also be banked. This will provide the fuel to take research discovery to the next level," says Geoff Lindeman. 

Further information: http://www.viccancerbiobank.org.au <http://www.viccancerbiobank.org.au/> . Interviews: Niall Byrne - 0417 131 977, niall at scienceinpublic.com.au <mailto:niall at scienceinpublic.com.au> , Anne Thompson - 0409 995 654


 


What is the Victorian Cancer Biobank?


The Victorian Cancer Biobank (VCB) is a collection of blood and tissue samples, taken with consent from healthy individuals or patients diagnosed with cancer or at risk of developing cancer. It also includes some information about the health and treatment of the donors.

Samples and information from the Biobank are available for research into cancer including its causes, development, diagnosis and treatment. The overall aim of the Biobank is to improve our knowledge of cancer and cancer-related diseases as well as our ability to manage cancer in the future.

The Victorian Cancer Biobank is a not-for-profit consortium or network of Tissue Banks, supported by The Cancer Council Victoria and the Victorian Government. It has been established to increase the collection of normal and cancer tissue and support the sharing of tissue amongst researchers located in a number of institutions and organisations.

Our overall aim is to improve our knowledge of cancer and cancer-related diseases as well as our ability to manage cancer in the future.

The tissue collected during surgery is in excess of what is required for diagnosis and would usually be discarded. 

Researchers from within Australia or overseas can apply to the Victorian Cancer Biobank for biospecimens and information. Before biospecimens are provided to researchers, an impartial panel of scientists and doctors must agree that the project is scientifically worthwhile and a Human Research Ethics Committee must approve the project.

The Biobank builds on the success of previous tissue banking initiatives. 

The Consortium member organisations are: 

§         Austin Health <http://www.austin.org.au/> 

§         Melbourne Health <http://www.mh.org.au/> 

§         Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre <http://www.petermac.org/> 

§         Southern Health <http://www.southernhealth.org.au/> 

§         The Cancer Council Victoria <http://www.cancervic.org.au/>  (Lead agency).

For further information for donors and users please visit http://www.viccancerbiobank.org.au <http://www.viccancerbiobank.org.au/> 


How can I donate


People who wish to donate don't need to take any action. 

You will be invited to donate by your doctor or cancer nurse at the time of surgery. 

The Victorian Cancer Biobank will ensure that cancer treatment remains the first priority. 

However, where feasible - and only with patient consent - tissue that would have otherwise been discarded will also be banked.


How does it get collected?


After a patient has agreed to the tissue being donated, it is collected from the operating theatre after surgery and taken to the pathologist who keeps what is required for diagnosis and gives the tissue bank staff the remainder that would normally be discarded.

The tissues are stored in liquid nitrogen and -800C indefinitely, until needed.


Confidentiality


To protect patient privacy, only authorised Biobank personnel have access to personal information. When materials or information are released to researchers they will be labelled with a unique number only. Researchers will not be able to find out who you are unless you specifically allow the disclosure of your personal information to particular researchers.


Further information: 


http://www.viccancerbiobank.org.au <http://www.viccancerbiobank.org.au/> . 

Interviews: Niall Byrne - 0417 131 977, niall at scienceinpublic.com.au <mailto:niall at scienceinpublic.com.au> , Anne Thompson - 0409 995 654

 

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