The Victorian Cancer Biobank (VCB) consortium provides a coordinated and integrated program that collects and distributes tissue samples to support cancer research in Victoria, Australia and throughout the world with the aim of delivering better clinical outcomes to people with cancer.
Since operations commenced in 2006, more than 34,000 Victorians undergoing cancer and other surgery have donated blood and surplus tissue to the Biobank. Applications have been received from more than 220 cancer research groups located within Australia and overseas and more than 50,000 biospecimens prepared from donated blood and tissues have been supplied with de-identified medical information.
The VCB is now one of the largest multi-centre collection facilities of its kind in the world, collecting tissue and blood from donors at 26 public and private hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne. In addition, we support training of molecular pathologists to improve skills and knowledge in the use of targeted therapies in cancer management.
How to order specimens
For a detailed sample search report customized to your research needs, please provide us with:
- Disease site(s) of interest;
- Number of fresh frozen and/or paraffin embedded tissue samples required;
- Sample types needed – tumour, matching normal, blood (serum, plasma, , buffy etc);
- Any additional services – RNA extraction, DNA extraction, tissue microarray construction;
- Inclusion/exclusion criteria.
Please email the VCB Project Manager at VCBEnquiries@cancervic.org.au to determine if the VCB can provide you with your research needs.
You will be required to complete and submit the following form:
- Form A: General Application
- Form B: Application for Biospecimens or Services
- We also recommend you read the following: VCB How to Apply and Conditions of Use
Coupled with Application Form A and Application for Biospecimens or Services (Form B), you will also be required to submit the following documentation to complete the application:
- Curriculum vitae of Principle Investigator (no longer than 2 pages)
- HREC (NEAF or equivalent) approval and amendment letters
- Complete HREC (NEAF or equivalent) application document
The VCB is committed to customer service and aims to achieve Access Committee review and approval within 5-7 business days.
Upon approval, your project will commence! Any subsequent de-identified clinical data will be securely transferred to you and samples will be shipped expeditiously.
You can find more details by accessing the following: Specimen Sample Request Procedure (coming soon).
Since November 12 2020, the VCB consortium achieved international biobanking certification from the Canadian Tissue Repository Network (CTRNet). CTRNet certification is an internationally recognised certification available to biobanks who successfully demonstrate operations that align with biobanking best practices. All VCB staff successfully completed biobanking best practice education modules and essential biobank processes/documents have been aligned towards international best practice standards.
The VCB was engaged to assist with collection of thyroid tumour tissue, RNA and DNA extraction from this tissue and collection of (de-identified) clinical data related to the samples. I was very satisfied with the service provided by VCB who were able to provide thyroid tumour tissue from multiple hospital sites in a timely fashion, to assist with RNA/DNA extraction and to gather relevant data for clinical correlation. VCB were critical in achieving the outcome as they were able to coordinate tissue collection across multiple hospital sites (with a view to achieving target numbers of tumours). This process would have been very difficult if not impossible without a centralised body to coordinate it. In addition, VCB assisted greatly with DNA/RNA extraction using established protocols and systems with good quality control. They provided the desired product with an accompanying quality report – this was a huge time saver for me as a researcher, provided me with confidence in the material I was using and allowed me to focus on the critical parts of my project. In addition, gathering clinical data from multiple hospital sites would not have been possible without a centralised body such as VCB who were able to find the relevant information and provide it in a de-identified form to protect patient confidentiality while providing valuable data for research.” "Mutation profile of differentiated thyroid tumours in an urban Australian population", published in Internal Medicine Journal 2014
The VCB represents an irreplaceable resource for cancer researchers like myself. Access to tumour tissues and clinical data is vital in many areas of cancer research. Because of changes to the ethical requirements for the collection and use of human sample it is often not feasible for individual research groups to access, collect and store human samples. VCB handles all these requirements which make tissues available to researchers whilst protecting the privacy and rights of patients. Many clinical studies require access to a large number of samples in order to draw statistically valid conclusions. Even with common tumours, collecting samples and associated clinical data can take years and is beyond the resources of most research groups. In our own case we used samples from >100 patients in a study of the role of three different genes in the progression of colon cancer. The availability of the tissue samples supplied as microscope slides ready for use, access to the clinical data plus expert opinion on the stage and grade of each tumour sample reduced the time to complete this study from years to months. In addition having a centralised repository means that sample are processed and stored under identical protocols making comparing studies from different research groups easier.
VCB has accurately and swiftly aided me to obtain human tissue and plasma samples for biomarker studies. VCB played a critical role in the viability of my ongoing study, since VCB was one of the few biobanks having 200+ matched paired plasma/tissue samples from NCSCLC patients available. Guided by the excellent help of VCB, Ethical approval and access to these samples was easy and well- coordinated. Specifically, the possibility for direct communication with the personnel collecting, sectioning and shipping the materials from Melbourne to Utrecht, The Netherlands and Boulder, CO, USA, was of vital importance to the success and high quality of my research project. I would strongly recommend funding of VCB to allow continuation of their activities.
The Biobank resource represents essential infrastructure to enable clinician-researchers such as myself to study cancers, which will lead to new insights into cancer biology that while drive improvements in patient care. It continues to be a worthwhile initiative and I support the need for longer term funding to provide security and enable longer term planning initiatives by the VCB. The ability to source tumours from multiple different hospital sites has been particularly helpful in enabling me to obtain adequate numbers of cases for rarer tumour types. I would be interested in providing further pathologist assistance to help the VCB collect rarer tumour types to enable these tumours to also be studied. Funding targeted at providing support for pathology trainees to get further involved with VCB projects would also be highly desirable, as Biobanks should be an integral part of the modern anatomical pathology lab.
The biospecimens processed and/or collected by the VCB has been crucial to a number of concurrent projects that are investigating the role of circulating tumour DNA as a biomarker in colorectal cancer. Over the past 4 years, my research team at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research has received over 8,000 biospecimens from over 300 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer; a recruitment rate that could not have been possible without a resource like the VCB. The rapid collection of high quality blood specimens linked to clinical data, has enabled us to explore the clinical utility of blood biomarker in the management of colorectal cancer patients. These translational research projects have resulted in multiple abstracts and presentations in National and International Oncology meetings. Because of the VCB’s open-resource policy, my team has been able to attract research funding from Victorian Cancer Agency and NHMRC. The professional work by dedicated VCB staff continues to be a major cornerstone of colorectal cancer research in Victoria and is a very important asset to the community.
I was approached by the VCB to participate in a research project involving colonoscopies whilst at Box Hill Hospital. After having the study purpose and requirements explained to me, I agreed to participate by having a one off blood sample collected. I also answered a questionnaire that the girl provided. I think the VCB was an important part of the process as they explained to me that the VCB help to organize the sourcing of patients and coordinate the collection of my sample to be sent to the research project. The researchers are I believe interstate, so the VCB being here on site enabled me to have the opportunity to help research into medical science. I guess if the VCB had not been in operation then I personally would not have had the opportunity to be part of the study. I like the idea of my sample being able to help others in the future.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2007, I never thought about participating in medical research until I was approached by the Victorian Cancer Biobank. When I learned that I had to have surgery to remove a large tumour from my parotid gland, all I wanted was for the tumour to be removed and hopefully have a full recovery. I didn't think or care about what happened to the tissue once it was removed. However, once tissue banking was explained to me, I never imagined the benefits that could result from donating tissue that was left over. I never knew that tissue and blood could be of such value to so many researchers. I had no idea the vaccines against cancer could be developed from studying tissue, or that drugs could be developed to target specific kinds of cancer. I have been disease free now for over 8 years and if it were not for government funded programme like the VCB I would never have equated the treatment options I received to people who may have contributed to cancer research in the past. It was a devastating experience being told I had cancer, so if my small contribution of tissue adds to the general pool of knowledge to find better treatments or cures for other cancer patients, then I am grateful that an organisation like the VCB existed. The VCB made it easy for me to contribute to the public good, and has given me a feeling that I could be making a difference.