PROCURE is a Canadian organization dedicated to one main goal: to provide science and humanity with means to help prevent and cure prostate cancer.
Founded in 2003, PROCURE is a collaboration between four university-based hospitals in Quebec, and in addition to providing patient services and information on prostate cancer to the public, the organization also maintains a biobank to aid researchers studying the disease. Biobanks now play a key role in the fight against prostate cancer, as scientists need high-quality prostate tissue and clinical information to power investigations into new diagnostics and treatments.
PROCURE established its biobank in 2007, and since then, scientists from the four participating hospitals have been banking flash-frozen prostate tissue from radical prostatectomies (a procedure to remove a cancerous prostate and some of the surrounding tissue), as well as urine, blood and associated clinical data from prostate cancer patients.
Naturally, quality control is essential, especially when collections are performed at several different locations. Researchers need to be certain the biomarkers they are measuring accurately represent the underlying disease – and not an artifact from sampling at the different collection sites.
To verify PROCURE’s collection methods, scientists from the four hospitals recently evaluated (PDF, 157KB) the quality of randomly selected tissue from the repository.
This quality control study investigated 10 cases from each hospital randomly selected over the past five years. Samples from each case were split into four blocks, two of which were intended to contain cancerous tissue and two of which were intended to be benign. Pathologists then blindly evaluated characteristics of the blocks, such as nature of the sample (cancerous or not), quality of the tissue and Gleason score (a numerical score to evaluate the progression of cancerous cells). They also extracted RNA from the tissue samples and assessed it for quality.
The results from the investigation were encouraging: Pathologists were able to identify cancerous regions and assign a Gleason score to frozen tissue from all cases. Plus, the RNA Integrity Number (a measure of RNA quality) was uniformly high and consistent across samples collected from each year, indicating RNA is well preserved for long periods of time in the biobank.
Interestingly, about 30 percent of the presumed cancerous blocks were identified as benign, and the same amount of presumed benign tissue blocks were actually identified as cancerous. The misclassification of tissue was likely caused by the fact that not all of the frozen blocks were evaluated by a pathologist at the time of storage, a process that is now being performed by the biobank. Overall, though, the results from this study confirm the high quality of randomly selected prostate tissue samples from the PROCURE biobank.
This October, PROCURE received a $4.5 million grant to support the biobank and research initiatives.
“The financial support announced today will allow us to achieve greater impact: we will provide researchers in the Canadian and international scientific communities with biological samples and data for innovative, large-scale projects against prostate cancer,” Cédric Bisson, Chairman of the Board of PROCURE,said,
Thanks to research biobanks like PROCURE, the future for patients with prostate cancer is looking a little brighter.