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More than 4,000 pediatric tumour samples for research

25 May 2023
Biobanco del Hospital Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona

Spain's largest pediatric tumour bank is open to the Pediatric Oncology Lab research team at the SJD Pediatric Cancer Center

The Pediatric Oncology Lab research team at the SJD Pediatric Cancer Center Barcelona (SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital) has full access to the largest pediatric tumour bank in Spain to carry out their research projects.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of healthcare professionals in Oncology and Surgery, for the last 15 years, the Anatomic Pathology Service has been systematically collecting all kinds of tumour samples taken from patients over the course of their disease. It is being done for two reasons: on the one hand, to be able to provide patients with personalised molecular diagnostics and treatment; and on the other hand, to provide researchers across the globe with tumour samples to increase knowledge of pediatric cancer.

‘The patient is always the priority. When they come to the Anatomic Pathology Service, the team takes the samples. Some of each sample is kept by Hospital Pathologists to actually diagnose the disease, and the remainder is stored for further research,’ explains Cristina Jou, head of the Biobank at the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital. 

An invaluable tumor bank for research

At present, the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital tumour bank contains over 4,200 tumour samples. Aside from these samples, which are frozen, the Biobank also has paraffin-embedded samples, as well as DNA and RNA samples. In addition, over 700 tumours have been criopreserved for later tumour cell cultures.  

‘This is an invaluable resource for scientific research. We must not forget that pediatric cancer is a rare disease, and one of the challenges we are facing with regard to research in this field is access to enough tumour tissue samples,’ highlights Cinzia Lavarino, head of the molecular diagnostics laboratory. In terms of diffuse brain stem gliomas (DIPG), for example, the number of existing samples for research is extremely low because many facilities do not even biopsy these tumours due to there being no curative treatment at present. The Biobank at the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital has 26 preserved samples of this type of tumour.  

The Pediatric Tumour Bank at the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital has provided more than 2,600 tumour samples both to the Hospital and to collaborating hospitals across the world for investigation projects on pediatric cancers. Every request goes through a rigorous process which complies with ethical and legal good research practice requirements to ensure proper use of tissue samples.