Medical scientists have started collecting sample tissue for the country’s first Brain Tumour Biobank.

The biobank has been established by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, with support from the Department of Neurosurgery and Neuropathology in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.

The project, partly funded by Brain Tumour Ireland, is expected to lead to increased cancer research opportunities and, crucially, increased survival rates for those diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Brain Tumour Ireland hopes it will lead to new and targeted therapies for brain tumours, and individualised treatments for patients.

The biobank will enable researchers to analyse the molecular composition of brain tumours and develop new therapies.

Professor of physiology at RCSI, Jochen Prehn said the biobank was the first of its type in Ireland and one of only a small number in Europe.

“In recent years, much progress has been made in the treatment and diagnoses of brain tumours.

“However, future advances are likely to be made through a greater understanding of the biology,” said Prof Prehn.

“To conduct studies and research into brain tumours it is vital to have access to a wide range of samples from various types of brain tumours, and a brain tumour biobank gives us the opportunity to do that for the benefit of patients,” he said.

The biobank at Beaumont Hospital will become a repository for brain tumour samples that researchers can use for future clinical studies, to identify and diagnose tumours in other patients and help develop cancer treatments.

All samples included in the biobank are anonymised, and patients’ consent is sought in advance of treatment.

Only tissue surplus to diagnostic requirements can be collected.

Prof Prehn said the structure of biobanks fostered cross-collaboration between disease advocacy organisations and research scientists. “They produce a synergy that hastens the research process, making treatments or cures to genetic conditions attainable in the near future,” he added.

Prof Prehn said other biobanks in Ireland for various forms of cancer, such as breast and bowel diseases, had made a significant contribution to the development of new cancer treatments.

Chair of Brain Tumour Ireland, Natasha Smith said that as well as providing support and information to brain tumour patients, one of its chief goals was to fund brain tumour research.

“Brain Tumour Ireland is delighted to support this fantastic initiative, and we look forward to continued partnership with RCSI and Beaumont Hospital,” she said.


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