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Tissue Bank supporting scientists' research into childhood cancers

Research News
Saturday, June 20, 2015 - 9:45pm
Scientists from Murdoch Children's Research Institute are using state-of-the-art tissue banking facilities to understand the mechanisms of childhood cancer.

The Children's Cancer Centre Tissue Bank distributes tissue samples from cancer patients at The Royal Children’s Hospital to conduct research, aiming to discover how cancer develops and how a patient’s genes affect their response to cancer treatment.

The Children's Cancer Centre is the largest centre for the treatment of paediatric cancers in Australia, and the Bank presents an exciting opportunity to access patient samples; not only to provide the best possible outcomes for current patients, but also to use samples as part of research to make improvements for future cancer patients.

Samples are collected at different stages of standard clinical care. This is routinely done to aid in a patient’s diagnosis prior to treatment, during the course of treatment to monitor progress, or after treatment to determine outcome.

Samples are also used for ethically approved research projects, usually directly related to the child’s original diagnosis. Working in collaboration with specialist pathologists, oncologists, surgeons and other research enablers, the process begins with obtaining patient consent. The bank adheres to the highest standards for protection of privacy of patients.

“Our research studies rely on using tissue samples removed from patients in the operating theatre or in the clinic during the course of clinical investigation and treatment,” said Tissue Bank Coordinator, Dr Louise Ludlow.  

“The long term goal of our research is to reduce the incidence of cancer and to improve the outlook of children suffering with this disease. However, such research is dependent upon the availability of tumour specimens for the scientists to study.”

“Unfortunately research can be inhibited due to the lack of high-quality human samples available for experimentation. We’re extremely grateful when we can access patient samples for research, and most families are pleased that these samples can aid in research for better diagnosis and treatment.”

The Bank was established in 2007 from funding provided by the Children’s Cancer Foundation and My Room and has been supported since 2014 by CIKA (Cancer In Kids @ RCH) and currently holds over 300 tumour specimens. The majority of samples are stored indefinitely, with the highest possible integrity to allow researchers to access material for testing by rapidly advancing technologies. 

Find out more about the Children's Cancer Centre Tissue Bank here.

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