At least two "valleys of death" have been identified in the spectrum of biomedical research where blockage occurs in translating advances in scientific knowledge to clinical practice and decision making1. One "valley" is the translation of basic scientific knowledge to create new diagnostic techniques or therapeutic interventions that can be used in the care of patients. The analysis of human biospecimens can help cross these barriers. The analysis of biospecimens are used to either confirm the biochemical/biophysical/genetic mechanisms of disease or to test biospecimens in the workup of new diagnostic procedures or confirmation of biological outcomes of therapeutic interventions. It is the difficulty and expense in obtaining appropriate groups of human biospecimens to do such studies that contribute greatly to the obstacles in advancing biomedical research.
Does your biospecimen resource impact science like this?
Why Biobank? A recent article was published explaining why there are many names scientists often suggest as an alternative to the word “biobank.” In his article, Biobanks: Why All the Names, Robert Hewitt wrote that biobanks are not meeting the expectations of patients, researchers and the society as a whole1.
Reasons for Dr. Hewitt’s perception are indicated as such. Retrospectively collected biospecimens, which exist in most biobanks, may not meet the requirements of the studies of the researchers. Additionally, the consent forms patients sign for the use of their biospecimens may not cover the proposed research. Finally, a highly selective review process can delay the release of biospecimens from the biobank.
A different author, Dominic Allen, once wrote biobanks should collect biospecimens prospectively in a trusted collection of networks2 to overcome some of these limitations. Fortunately, the Cooperative Human Tissue Network’s (CHTN) founders had the foresight... Read more
Over the last five years the CHTN provided 235,710 biospecimens to approved researchers throughout the U.S. and Canada as well as a few internationally. In 2016, the CHTN provided 433 IRB reviewed researchers 49,832 quality samples from consented surgical remnant tissues. 72% of the specimens provided were by the researchers primary CHTN division while the remaining 28% of specimens were provided by the CHTN consortium of medical centers.
Special collections are available from some divisions. The Mid-Atlantic Division has an assortment of available tissue microarrays (TMAs). The Pediatric Division can provides samples from the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and the Eastern, Midwestern, Southern, and Western Divisions add geographic and ethnic diversity to the samples provided.
All CHTN divisions work within the CHTN consortium and network investigator biospecimen requests if agreeable to the investigator to the other CHTN divisions. All Divisions participate to... Read more
The CHTN mission is to provide prospectively procured biospecimens to scientific investigators with the ability to modify procurement and specimen processing procedures to suit the individual protocol of each investigator. Basic demographic information and clinicopathologic data abstracted from pathology reports are provided to investigators. More detailed clinical annotation may be obtained by arrangement.
Most tissue specimens procured by the CHTN are distributed to investigators as fresh/viable aliquots or snap-frozen. Quality control (QC) for all tissue samples consists of histologic analysis of a paired formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue segment that is examined by a board-certified anatomic pathologist ensuring the delivery of correct tissue type and the elimination of highly necrotic specimens (Fig. A).
For tumor specimens, tumor cellularity, percent stroma and percent necrosis are also recorded (Fig. B). The histologic QC procedures created by the... Read more
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