THE ROLE OF BIOBANKS IN CANCER RESEARCH
The use of human tissue specimens in cancer research has advanced our understanding of the disease and is integral for developing new therapies and diagnostics.
Biospecimens can be obtained during clinic visits or surgery for diagnostic testing or from autopsies. In compliance with ethical practices and consent, biospecimens and their associated clinical data are stored in biobanks where they can be readily accessed by researchers in oncology to study the cause and progression of cancer, and its response to treatment. In this context, biobanks have a key role in translational medicine and represent an important health research infrastructure, providing resources for multi-centre studies and population-based collections that can validate laboratory results or power the statistical significance of clinical data. Biobank networks also enable larger research initiatives with national and international collaborators, expanding case numbers for the study of rare cancers and developing classification criteria of distinct patient subgroups.
In this era of personalized medicine and advanced high-throughput technology, biobanked tissues have become an important tool for screening new therapeutics and developing treatment or prevention strategies that can be optimized to the unique tumour profile of a patient. By examining patient clinical data through the molecular analyses of their tissues at different disease stages or outcomes, patterns or biomarkers can be identified to define disease behaviour and clarify a patient‘s status for the most effective treatment strategy or improve the accuracy of prognosis. An immediate goal is to link tumour profiling to specific treatments in real time and assign the most appropriate therapy within a time frame suitable for clinical decision-making.