The Partners in Cancer Research Human Tissue Bank exists for the benefit of society at large and was established primarily to foster biomedical research in Norwich.
We release donated samples to bona fide researchers (who are mainly university- or research institute-based), particularly those working in Norwich (mainly at the University of East Anglia - UEA - and Institute of Food Research - IFR), but also further afield, including the commercial sector (Asterand UK Ltd), to support appropriate projects aimed at a greater understanding of the development of disease (particularly "cancer"), with a view to improving diagnosis and treatment.
Applicants for tissue samples from the Partners in Cancer Research Human Tissue Bank must have appropriate approvals from a research governance committee and from a research ethics committee before applying. Our own supervising Tissue Bank Committee then critically assesses the request, particularly from the view of scientific validity and ethical considerations, before deciding whether to approve or reject the application. We take account of whether any donation will adversely affect our local research effort, by depleting our own holdings, as that is the primary purpose for the Bank. However, we are quite happy to develop research collaborations with colleagues elsewhere, if the proposed programme is congruent with our own research interests.
We do not, of course "sell" donations, but we do expect any commercial partners to support the work of the Human Tissue Bank by reimbursing our costs in obtaining, processing and maintaining the donations. Academic partners, particularly those in Norwich, are able to obtain samples at no cost. However, we do encourage them to include an element of Human Tissue Bank funding into their grant applications in order to provide additional funding to support our work.
The Partners in Cancer Research Human Tissue Bank Committee has decided, as a matter of policy, to restrict the use of tissue donations to countries that are bound by the Human Tissue Act 2004 or that have legislation in place that demands similar standards of handling, processing and use of human tissue donations. Such restrictions are enshrined in legally binding deeds, as necessary.
We permit a variety of different methods to be used with our donations, including genetic analysis (DNA and RNA). At present, cloning is expressly forbidden. The potential uses of donations are described in broad terms to donors and are inclued on the information sheet that they receive. When we release tissue for research projects, we take account of each donor's wishes, as indicated on the consent form.
Donations are sought from patients attending the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The request is usually made by a doctor in the clinical team or by a senior (and properly trained) nurse practitioner.
We undertake many collaborative projects, the results of which are published in peer-reviewed journals, so that others can make use of our new knowledge in their own work. Our first paper discussed, inter alia, ethical aspects of tissue donation to the bank. Please see: AC Riddick, C Barker, I Sheriffs, R Bass, V Ellis, KK Sethia, DR Edwards, RY Ball. Banking of fresh-frozen prostate tissue: methods, validation and use. B J Urol Int 2003; 91: 315-323.
We do not inform patients of the experimental results obtained from their individual donations. Occasional local endeavours, such as talks or poster presentations, are used to spread knowledge of the work of the Bank and to inform the public at large of the results we obtain from donations and how they might influence future research and patient care.