A biobank is a repository of de-identified biological samples and related health information collected from patients and healthy individuals upon their consent. Researchers request access to these samples regularly as they are crucial in helping them answer important scientific questions.
Why is it important?
Advances in cancer research have deepened our understanding of the disease and has led to an increase in life-extending treatment options for a life-threatening condition. These medical advances would not have been possible without basic and translational research, nor without the donations of blood and tissues from patients.
To convert the insights gained from research to practical applications, it is crucial for scientists to study and validate their findings in more than just animals. Cells that come directly from cancer patients provide the most accurate picture of cancer we are fighting against.
Moreover, cancer is a complex disease with distinctive characteristics (and vulnerabilities) that are unique to each patient. This means that treating cancer requires therapeutic approaches that vary from one patient to another, a concept known as personalized medicine. Samples donated by patients can be used to identify therapeutic targets as well as markers that could help predict which patient group would (or would not) benefit from a given therapy, hence providing a critical information in strategizing a treatment plan.
Therefore, patient samples represent an indispensable resource for cancer research and an unparalleled fuel for the development of more effective personalized treatments.
Additionally, you may, in some cases, benefit from incidental findings. These are findings that are discovered unintentionally during research, which could be important in optimizing your treatments, whether they were anticipated or not.