Research Report 2013

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and Children’s Cancer Centre (CCC) at the Royal Children’s Hospital are extremely grateful for the support of CIKA in assisting our efforts to understand the mechanisms underlying childhood cancer. Our team of clinicians and researchers have several aims. Firstly, to discover the triggers (including environmental factors and genes) that lead to cancer development. Secondly, to understand why some children respond well to treatment and have a full cure, while others don’t. Finally, to discover why some children have a very toxic response to treatment.

There is now a general consensus that addressing these questions requires the detailed investigation of a large number of individual tumours. In the case of childhood tumours this means the need to study tissue samples removed from patients as part of their normal course of clinical investigation and treatment.

The CCC at the Royal Children’s Hospital is the largest centre for the treatment of paediatric cancers in Australia, which provides a unique opportunity to access rare solid and liquid tumours from paediatric patients. The CCC tissue bank is one of only three paediatric tumour tissue banks in Australia and is a collection of solid tumour tissue, bone marrow, blood and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) preserved for use in future research. The samples, which can be stored indefinitely in ultra-cold freezers or in liquid nitrogen, are considered incredibly precious.

The objective of the CCC tissue bank is to assemble a collection of human biological materials linked to relevant health information for clinical investigation and ethically approved research. This involves working in collaboration with pathologists, oncologists, surgeons and other hospital personnel, to obtain patient consent, to collect samples and to gather associated clinical information about each participant and their corresponding specimens. The CCC tissue bank facilitates the supply of tissue samples to promote translation of biomedical research into advances in health care and personalised medicine.

The CCC tissue tank was established in 2006 and currently holds over two hundred solid tumour specimens in the form of tissue blocks and cryopreserved cell suspensions, the majority of which are held in frozen storage in a controlled and secure facility within the MCRI. Application is currently being made to access many thousands of archived formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue blocks stored in Anatomical Pathology at The Royal Children’s Hospital.