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
The CHTN takes note that human tissue samples continue to play a major role in cancer research. One of the latest national cancer research efforts takes the form of the so called “Cancer Moonshot” program that has been organized by the office of Vice-President Joe Biden. While the CHTN itself has not been tapped for this effort, some of the CHTN Principal Investigators have been involved in information-gathering and organizational efforts for this program. One subprogram of the Cancer Moonshot has been thematically termed the Applied Proteogenomics Organizational Learning and Outcomes (APOLLO) consortium. APOLLO will build on the enormously successful The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC). These previous programs have provided open access to raw genomic and proteomic data to cancer researchers that have been useful in both discovery research by data mining and validation of laboratory molecular findings in a larger dataset. Some... Read more
In 2012, a group of distinguished scientists convened at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to discuss the problem of over diagnosis and hence overtreatment of cancer. This group published in 2014, the article entitled "Addressing over diagnosis and overtreatment in cancer" (Read the abstract Pub Med Reference (PMC4322920)). The group pointed out appropriately that cancer describes a wide range of diseases from indolent to fast growing lesions. They proposed a new terminology for indolent and precancerous disorders such as "indolent lesion of epithelial origin or IDLE”.
Among lesions they suggested would be overtreated low grade and intraductal breast lesions, low grade prostatic neoplasms and encapsulated thyroid neoplasms. The removal of the word "cancer" or "carcinoma" from the diagnosis of such lesions, which by their very nature haven't indolent clinical behavior and if left untreated... Read more