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Research biorepositories

The establishment of the Translational Research Institute (TRI) on the Princess Alexandra Hospital campus provides a unique opportunity for patients, participants, clinicians and researchers to work together to solve health challenges collaboratively and efficiently.

Integral to the field of translational research is the need for a sustainable supply of well-documented and high quality biospecimens. Biospecimens are samples of human tissue such as blood, lymph node, bone marrow, tumour, saliva, buccal (cheek) cells, hair follicles etc.  Biospecimens from disease specific cancer biobanks have been instrumental in facilitating large scale research projects which have led to new treatments and better outcomes for patients.

Biospecimens are collected at various time points throughout a patient’s treatment (i.e. pre-treatment/diagnosis, disease progression, relapse or remission) and stored in a storage facility called a research biorepository (also known as a biobank, tumour bank or tissue bank) for future use in medical research.  Much like a money bank, researchers can make ‘withdrawals’ from a research biorepository to utilise in their ethically and scientifically approved and authorised research projects.

Importance of research biorepositories

The availability of successful biobanking services enables advancements in the understanding of disease biology through clinically-directed translational research. Outcomes of research projects utilising high quality research biorepository biospecimens are often more predictive and give more opportunities for personalisation of medicine. Additionally, the extensive network established by a research biorepository, comprising of government and public stakeholders, helps bring together scientists, clinicians, academic researchers, the pharmaceutical industry and patient advocacy research groups, resulting into a stronger collaborative milieu in the scientific community.

Research biorepositories give researchers access to data representing a large number of people. Samples in research biorepositories and the data derived from those samples can often be used by multiple researchers for cross purpose research projects.

In addition to the storage of biospecimens for research purposes, biorepositories are also important for developing personalised medicine and/or precision medicine in the management of cancer patients. Precision diagnosis and resultant personalised treatments are entirely dependent on access to high quality individual patient biospecimens and the efficient, effective, secure and risk minimised storage of these biospecimens underpins such success. 

Types of research biorepositories in Metro South Health

Collection types currently held within Metro South Health include the following cancer types:

  • haematological malignancies, eg leukaemia and lymphoma
  • head and neck
  • skin cancer and melanoma (phenotypically characterised equivocal melanocytic proliferations)
  • oesophageal, gastric and gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST)
  • melanoma and soft tissue
  • brain tumour
  • liver
  • kidney

Metro South Health’s largest biorepository is called the Cancer Collaborative Biobank (CCB).

Participation in a Metro South Health research biorepository

Patients who are interested in participating in a research biorepository are encouraged to discuss further with their treating medical practitioner.

Last updated 25 May 2018
Last reviewed 18 May 2018