The National EHE Biobank is open!!!
Why is a biobank important?
Dealing with an ultra-rare cancer like EHE creates a lot of challenges. One key challenge is the small number of patients diagnosed with the disease, and the resultant small amounts of EHE tissue and fluid samples that are available for research. But those small amounts of tissue and fluid samples will only be available for research if they are identified, captured, collected and carefully stored, together with the appropriate patient clinical records, and then made available to scientists who want to carry out the research.
To do this effectively it is essential that the collection and storage of samples in the UK is centrally organised, managed and administered. These centrally-coordinated collections of samples are known as biobanks, and for a disease like EHE, establishing one is critical to support meaningful research that will ultimately help find new way to treat the disease.
The National EHE Biobank (UK)
Funded by the EHE Rare Cancer Charity, the National EHE Biobank has been jointly created by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Royal Marsden Hospital (RMH) in London. The actual biobank itself will be administered by the Royal Marsden Generic Tissue Bank (GTB) based at the Royal Marsden Hospital.
But we can only collect the samples we need if we have the support of EHE patients across the UK, and the help and involvement of patients’ medical teams and hospitals, to ensure that everybody’s samples are captured. It is only by working together with medical oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, nursing staff, personnel who will enrol patients and obtain their consent, and collect, collate, and record all samples and clinical records, that the National EHE Biobank will be successful.
How will the samples be used?
Different forms of samples will be collected. These will include fresh and frozen tissue samples, and samples in paraffin blocks, originating from a patient’s original diagnostic process, or from subsequent surgery as part of an ongoing treatment programme. Blood and other fluid samples will also be collected as appropriate, including at regular clinical consultations. These samples collectively, combined with anonymised clinical records, will form a key data set for researchers, be that locally, nationally or internationally.
Research access to the biobank samples will be considered for each research proposal submitted to the Access Committee, a group of research and clinical specialists who are responsible for deciding if a research proposal is valid and a sensible use of these rare EHE samples.
So how can you help?
As outlined above, creating an EHE biobank and giving access to these clinical samples is a key component in our overall research strategy, ultimately leading to our ability to treat the disease. But we cannot do this unless patients support this initiative and consent to their samples and anonymised clinical records being provided to the EHE biobank.
Surgery and urgent matters
‘Live tissue’ from surgical procedures is particularly important and valuable to researchers who are, for example, focused on developing EHE cell lines. These are procedures where tissue is kept alive in highly controlled conditions, so that the cells continue to grow and divide, providing tissue for other researchers to use. At the present time there are no EHE cell lines available anywhere in the world.
If you do have planned surgery to remove EHE tumour tissue, please contact the EHE Biobank Manager, Ms Emma Perkins, by e-mail (EHEbiobank@rmh.nhs.uk) , with as much notice as possible, so that arrangements can be made to capture these samples.
Sometimes it is not possible to provide a lot of warning about tissue and fluid samples that may become available at short notice. If this happens, please do not think that there is too little time to coordinate sample capture. In such cases please contact the EHE Biobank Manager immediately. They will then do all they can to coordinate the appropriate tissue capture procedures.
Information for parties wishing to access the EHE biobank
As an EHE patient, you can access information, ask questions, and discuss the possibility of your samples and records being provided to the EHE Biobank either through your local hospital that is responsible for your primary care, or directly though the National EHE Biobank itself. The following notes have been provided to assist you in gaining information about the biobank.
Patient Information Sheet (PIS)
If you are interested in supporting the EHE biobank by donating your tissue and fluid samples, then the Patient Information Sheet (PIS) can be downloaded below. The PIS provides information about the biobank and we hope will answer your questions. If there is further information required then please contact the EHE Biobank Manager, Ms Emma Perkins, by e-mail (EHEbiobank@rmh.nhs.uk) . Your local hospital may also be able to provide this same information and/or answer your questions.
The EHE Rare Cancer Charity is also available should you wish to discuss the biobank. You can do this by contacting Hugh Leonard, Chair of Trustees, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Patient Information Sheet can be downloaded here: PATIENT INFORMATION SHEET
Patient Consent Form
An example of the EHE Biobank Patient Consent Form can also be downloaded below. If you have any questions concerning this form, then again you can contact the EHE Biobank Manager, Ms Emma Perkins, by e-mail (EHEbiobank@rmh.nhs.uk).
If you wish to proceed and provide your consent, you can do this:
- directly with your medical team at your hospital, who will then contact the EHE Biobank and make arrangements for sample transfer; or
- directly with the EHE Biobank Manager using the contacts above. If you do this directly with the EHE Biobank it would be useful if you could also notify your medical team of this fact.
Once the biobank and your medical team are aware of your wish to be included in the biobank, they will liaise directly and arrange for sample and record transfers.
Patient Consent Form can be downloaded here: PATIENT CONSENT FORM
- Medical teams and hospitals
If you are a hospital or medical team that wishes to discuss the EHE Biobank, and how a patient may be enrolled, please contact the EHE Biobank Manager, Ms Emma Perkins, by e-mail (EHEbiobank@rmh.nhs.uk).
In addition, copies of the Patient Information Sheet and Patient Consent Form can both be found above.
If you are a researcher that is interested in accessing the EHE Biobank, and want to discuss how this is done, how a research application should be submitted, how it will be evaluated, and associated time scales, please contact the EHE Biobank Manager, Ms Emma Perkins, by e-mail (EHEbiobank@rmh.nhs.uk).