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MesobanK – A Mesothelioma Tissue Bioresource

By Jacki Gittins, Project Manager

MesobanK is a mesothelioma tissue bioresource, based at Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, collecting tissue and blood samples from patients all over the UK. MesobanK supplies researchers these samples to use in mesothelioma and asbestos related research. 

Originally funded by the British Lung Foundation and Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund, we have very recently received funding from the Victor Dahdaleh Foundation ensuring we can continue to support research for the next four years.

We work on a number of areas – building Tissue MicroArrays (TMA) with Formalin Fixed Paraffin Embedded (FFPE) tumour samples, prospective collection of blood, pleural fluid and tumour samples from patients newly diagnosed with mesothelioma, and the creation of novel cell lines.

Tissue Microarray (TMA)
A TMA is an incredibly useful tool for researchers. Small cores (0.6mm diameter) are taken from the tumour samples (FFPE) of many hundreds of patients and remounted in one block. This block is then thinly cut to give researchers access to multiple samples on one slide.

There are samples from almost 1,000 patients in the laboratory, being cored and processed into what will become the largest mesothelioma TMA, available to researchers across the world.

Having multiple tumour samples available from many different patients in such a concise format allows researchers to use large numbers of samples in an identical manner very quickly and easily, allowing a single experiment to be undertaken simultaneously on many hundreds of samples.

Samples of mesothelioma tumour, stored as FFPE blocks, have been gathered from the archives of NHS Hospitals across the UK. This gives a huge breadth of samples and encompasses all subtypes of the disease. 

Fresh Tissue Samples
Patients presenting to clinics in 14 hospitalsin the UK are approached for consent todonate samples to MesobanK. Not allof these patients will be diagnosed withmesothelioma – some may never bediagnosed, but others may be diagnosedwithin a few years and samples from thesepatients may be very valuable to researchers.

Where possible, tumour blood and pleural fluid samples are taken and processed and stored. Between January 2015 and January 2017 the number of patients donating samples has increased by 350%. 

Cell Lines
Tumour cell lines are essential tools in the effort to develop therapies against cancer.The currently available mesothelioma cell lines were generated over the previous twenty years and have been maintained in culture for some time. Keeping cell lines for such a long time may mean that their effectiveness as tools for developing new anti-cancer treatments is reduced and so cell lines are being developed from new sources. MesobanK is working with two organisations and to date 20 novel cell lines are available for research use. The demand for samples of these cell lines is high and discussion is underway to try to produce more new lines for researchers to use. 

Open for business

A number of research groups have requested tissue and blood samples collected by MesobanK; samples of blood and tumour have been used by academics in a UK university and, in separate work, cell lines have been used for research into new medicines.

The samples currently being collected will support research over the next year at least, and we hope that MesobanK will facilitate and stimulate new ideas and avenues of research into mesothelioma that will lead to further research projects. We are open to discussions regarding bespoke sample collections and would invite researchers interested in using existing or future samples to contact us so that we can discuss requirements as early as possible.

Our long-term aim is that work using MesobanK tissue samples will translate into novel treatments for patients with mesothelioma with the aim of improving survival rates, not just in the UK but across the globe. The new funding will allow MesobanK to expand into other countries and to continue to provide a lasting legacy for mesothelioma research for many years.


Twitter: @MesobanK