National cancer tissue bank now open for donations

In collaboration with the Press Association

A national tissue bank designed to house samples of cancer patients' tissue for research purposes has opened.

onCore UK is now accepting tissue samples from cancer patients in selected NHS Trusts, who can opt to donate samples of their tumour and blood.

The bank will enable researchers to use samples to further their understanding of cancer and to develop new treatments and cures. The researchers will have access to the relevant patient's medical history, although they will not be given donors' identities.

Professor Herbie Newell, director of translational research at Cancer Research UK, said that samples play "a vital and increasingly important role in the development and testing of new treatments".

"Samples of tissue and body fluids from patients are fast becoming the cornerstone of cancer research. Analysing them helps us unravel how and why cells become cancerous," he explained.

Patients will be given full details before signing a consent form to formally agree to donate tissue to the national biobank, which will store samples to the highest standards and in line with legal and ethical requirements.

In addition, onCore UK, which is also being funded by the Department of Health and the Medical Research Council, will work in collaboration with other UK tissue banks to integrate and improve access to existing archives.

Brian Clark, chief executive of onCore UK, said that such archives are "crucial" in enabling scientists to access the high quality samples they need for research.

"onCore UK was set up both to help facilitate cancer research in the UK and to meet the desire expressed by people with cancer to help. Many patients want to do something to support research into their disease and to help others in the future," he said.

"onCore UK can help people with cancer do this by providing them with an accessible and ethically approved way of donating samples and data," he continued.

"And they can do this safe in the knowledge that their donation will be stored securely and made available quickly to researchers throughout the country who can demonstrate how the samples can help their research."