What is the BioResource?
The BioResource is a facility at Newcastle University that stores the tissue samples of rare cancer patients. These samples, which have been collected during surgery and retained by NHS trusts, are accessible to scientists around the world who are looking to undertake research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of rare cancers. The BioResource allows us to enrich the data we hold about our members, so that researchers who are looking for specific genetic mutations or specific histological abnormalities are able to find the right patient for the right study or clinical trial, at the right time. It gives researchers the ability to build specific groups of samples for future research projects and studies specific to their needs.
An example of the BioResource in action can be found in our collaboration with the universities of Teesside, Newcastle and Cambridge. With consent from RareCan members, DNA is extracted from tissue samples and analysed in a process called ‘whole exome sequencing’. Research teams use these data to look at genetic abnormalities and identify new ways of treating and diagnosing cancers.
There are hundreds of life sciences companies across the globe investing in hundreds of products with links to rare cancer. They require access to consenting patients, secure data and tissue samples. For rare cancers in particular, finding enough of these to conduct research is a major obstacle and one of the reasons that researchers and drug companies have spent less time working on rare cancers in the past. The BioResource aims to meet this need and it represents an exciting opportunity for researchers to dig deeper into the rarest forms of cancer.