Vital boost in search for breast cancer cure

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SCIENTISTS are being given access from today to a national bank of breast cancer tissue which could give a vital boost to research.

The bank, funded by the charity Breast Cancer Campaign, stores tissue and blood samples from donors as well as key information about a patient’s breast cancer.

From the samples, researchers will get vital details about cancer and its characteristics and a patient’s family history, their treatments and their effectiveness.

Four leading research centres hold tissue samples including Leeds University under the collaboration with the NHS. Around 48,000 women and 300 men each year develop the illness.

The bank has been created due to difficulties accessing suitable samples and materials for research which has proved a major obstacle to translating science into new treatments.

Prof Alastair Thompson, of Dundee University, who is chairman of the tissue bank management board, said: “We hope that in the next decade the Breast Cancer Campaign tissue bank will have the same impact as the use of drugs such as tamoxifen, radiotherapy, good quality surgery and chemotherapy in reducing mortality for breast cancer.

“We hope that the day will come when everyone diagnosed with the disease is given the opportunity to donate this precious commodity to our tissue bank, it is vital to research and vital to a cure.”

Valerie Speirs, principal investigator at Leeds University, said: “The tissue bank has been operating on a small scale over the past year and through the hard work and dedication of the tissue bank team in Yorkshire and elsewhere, we are excited to be finally opening our doors to the research community in the UK and Ireland.

“This is a fantastic resource and I am confident that in the coming years it will lead to new findings which will translate into vital treatments for breast cancer.”

The bank houses around 2,500 patient samples in its collection. Women are asked to consent to donate their tissue when they are diagnosed with breast cancer.