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Do you know what is a Biobank?

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March 6, 2019

The Biobank, an essential resource to advance research.

What is a Biobank?

A Biobank is a biological resource plateform which collects, stores and redistributes patients’ clinical and socioeconomic data. For example, tumour tissues, blood and genetic samples, as well as cell and DNA sampling are gathered there.

Since the end of the 1990’s, this infrastructure has been known to be essential in supporting medical research, especially when it comes to genomic and precision medicine. Researchers use biobanks more and more in order to unlock the mysteries of illnesses such as cancer, as well as to better the treatments.

The breast cancer Biobank

Breast cancer is extremely complex, as tumours have distinctive characteristics. Therefore, therapeutic options vary considerably from one patient to another. The breast cancer Biobank is a project initiated by Dr. Anne-Marie Mes-Masson at the CR-CHUM. “There are different types of breast cancers associated with various defective genes. Breast cancer research currently focuses on identifying biomarkers that could predict which women could have better outcomes with conventional treatments and which ones would benefit from using new therapeutic strategies”, explains Anne-Marie Mes-Masson.

Following the acquisition of an informed consent, tumour tissues and blood samples are collected from patients with breast cancer and are gathered and stored. These tissues are quite useful to the scientific and medical community. They contribute to a better understanding of the illness, while allowing the transfer of this acquired knowledge directly to patients undergoing treatment. The CHUM research center, the McGill University Health Center and the Saint-Sacrement Hospital research center have stored samples collectively from over 6000 breast cancer patients. This large biobank has been created thanks to the financial support offered by the Cancer Research Network and the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.

500 000$ towards the micro-array project and the evaluation of breast cancer biomarkers

In 2015, the CHUM Research Center (CRCHUM) received a funding of 500 000$ from the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation in order to expand a research tool based on the breast cancer biobank. In fact, 2000 breast cancer tumour samples have been evaluated using a technique known as tissue micro-array. This technique quickly analyses thousands of patients’ tissues in one step and at a lower cost. This micro-array project allows the study of numerous targeted breast cancer biomarkers on various types of tissues, while correlating the obtained results to the patients’ clinical data. This represents an extremely valuable resource for Quebec researchers, as well as for the breast cancer scientific and clinical community. Altogether, this gives us a broader knowledge and understanding of this complicated illness.

Biobank, for a customized medicin.

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