Making Contact with Colleagues

Dr Louise Ludlow, the Children’s Cancer Centre Biobank Coordinator, is the recipient of generous funding from CIKA. In July this year she had the opportunity to visit The Tumour Bank at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and to meet with peers as part of the ANZCHOG Scientific Meeting.. She is delighted to provide this update.

The Tumour Bank at Westmead is managed by Associate Professor Daniel Catchpoole and his team Dr Li Zhou, Natalie Gabrael and Aysen Yuksel and is located at Kids Research and is part of the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network.

Louise (far left) is seen here with Associate Professor Daniel Catchpoole, Dr Li Zhou and Aysen Yuksel.

The Tumour Bank was the first paediatric tumour tissue bank established in Australia in 1998 with the purpose of facilitating research into childhood malignancy through the provision of well annotated, ethically collected tissue samples and provides a pathway for the Children’s Hospital at Westmead to engage in leading research initiatives, supporting international investigations and clinical trials.

Over the past twenty years, 3,788 individuals have provided consent to donate their tissue, representing 50 different types of cancers. The Tumour Bank has supported over 108 national and international research projects and contributed to over 70 peer-reviewed publications. In comparison, over the past nine years the CCC Biobank has supported 41 translational research projects yielding 21 peer-reviewed publications (clinical trials excluded).

The aim of my visit was to strengthen collaboration, compare workflows and processes, and discuss common biobanking challenges. Following COVID-19 protocols, I enjoyed a tour of relevant areas of the Hospital from Natalie Gabrael, who offers consent to families participating in The Tumour Bank. The Camperdown Ward (equivalent to our Kookaburra ward at The Royal Children’s Hospital) and Day Oncology clinics could not be viewed due to COVID-19 hospital-imposed restrictions.

It was interesting to see how similar the Clinical Haematology, Specimen Reception and Anatomical Pathology areas and processes were to our hospital. I also enjoyed seeing The Tumour Bank laboratory processing area and a new state of the art automated minus 80o storage freezer. Aysen Yuksel then demonstrated how the Tumour Bank prepares their tissue microarrays from paraffin blocks that were used to determine the patient’s diagnosis. This involves extracting cylindrical tissue cores from the blocks and re-embedding these into a single recipient block. This technique has been perfected and refined at The Tumour Bank and allows simultaneous analysis of tissue from many tumours at the same time.

Possible collaborative projects were discussed with Dr Li Zhou to increase sample output from the CCC Biobank. We all enjoyed a networking dinner where our common interest and passion in biobanking led to many stimulating conversations and discussions (see photo above).

I am grateful to the team at The Tumour Bank for being so welcoming and providing such an enlightening learning experience.