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National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Monday, November 7, 2005

NCI Media Relations Branch

NCI Launches Biorepository for Prostate Cancer

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced a cancer biorepository pilot project designed to standardize biospecimen collection and management among investigators of the NCI’s prostate cancer SPOREs (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence). The project will enhance the quality and availability of various biospecimens and associated data for the broader scientific community.

The Biorepository Coordination System (BCS) will link researchers at 11 institutions to enable and accelerate the evaluation of key genes and proteins as potential clinical measures of prostate cancer. The project will create a common biorepository of high-quality, clinically annotated biospecimens, including paraffin-embedded and frozen tissue, serum and/or plasma. Researchers will gain the analytical power of combined biorepository resources that will specifically support an Inter-Prostate SPORE Biomarkers Study. This biomarkers study will provide a specific scientific framework for testing the BCS model by conducting validation trials on five promising prostate cancer prognostic biomarkers. Retrospective studies of three promising biomarkers will provide additional evidence of their value in prostate cancer.

Research access to large numbers of high-quality biospecimens, annotated with clinical data, is critical to an improved understanding of disease at the molecular level. Over the past four years, NCI has sought to address this need by assessing the current landscape of biorepositories in its own portfolio, across the United States, and on an international basis. NCI also collaborated on the development of a biorepository network model for the cancer community, the National Biospecimen Network (NBN) Blueprint (http://prostatenbnpilot.nci.nih.gov). The NBN model is similar to efforts being undertaken by several countries, and it is anticipated that the BCS will test key principles embodied in this model.

“The NCI has engaged in a series of efforts over the past few years to determine best practices for biospecimen collection and management to support 21st century cancer research. With the launch of the BCS pilot project through the prostate cancer SPOREs, we will be able to test many of these concepts and the principles offered in a number of models such as the NBN blueprint,” said NCI Deputy Director Anna D. Barker, Ph.D. “This is an important milestone on the path to support the development of a new generation of molecularly-based cancer diagnostics and therapeutics.”

The BCS project will enroll patient volunteers at many sites and obtain biospecimens and associated clinical information using an integrated approach for ethical oversight and informed consent. The project will also standardize operating procedures for clinical data collection and biospecimen preservation, processing, storage, and dissemination. The BCS will employ a common interoperable informatics system compatible with the NCI’s Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG™) (https://cabig.nci.nih.gov/). Informatics is the collection and organization of information using computers and statistical methods.

"There is great potential right now for the use of biomarkers as a means of detecting and monitoring prostate cancer more effectively," noted Mark Rubin, M.D., Chief, Urologic Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dana Farber Harvard Cancer Center, and Chair, Task Force of the BCS Development Committee. "But, the ability to realize this potential depends to a large degree on having the right tools and the right information linked in a timely and seamless way among all participating researchers to speed clinical research."

To support the BCS project, the NCI has awarded a contract to the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC®) of Manassas, Virginia, (http://www.atcc.org/), a non-profit organization with 80 years of experience in the acquisition, authentication, preservation, storage and distribution of biological reference materials.

For more information about NCI’s Prostate SPORE program see http://spores.nci.nih.gov/current/prostate/prostate.html.

For more information about cancer and the National Cancer Institute, please visit the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov or call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

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