Quality Materials Lead to Quality Results
The Victorian Cancer Biobank (VCB) has a long-standing commitment to quality. Operations are standardized to international best practices, with audit systems in place to ensure compliance and regular testing to assure quality. Dedicated staff control the process, from obtaining consent to collection, storage and data management. This enables VCB to bank consistently high-quality samples and clinical data while protecting patient-donor safety and privacy. Stringent quality control over samples and data is continuously enforced. Moreover, personnel at the collection centres are trained quarterly on technical updates.
The VCB network achieved Canadian Tissue Repository Network (CTRNet) certification in November, 2020. To achieve certification in this internationally recognised program, VCB underwent an external review of key VCB governance and operational documents specific to operations at each of the 5 tissue bank sites and central operations to ensure the collection, processing, storage practices are of a high, ethical standard.
CTRNet registered certification numbers are:
VCB Consortium: BRC-00158
Austin Health Tissue Bank: BRC-00541
Eastern Health Tissue Bank: BRC-00539
Melbourne Health Tissue Bank: BRC-00544
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Tissue Bank: BRC-00540
Monash Health Tissue Bank: BRC-00555
VCB will consider obtaining ISO certification in the future. This means that VCB will meet international standards, not just best practice for high-quality collection, storage and release of human biospecimens.
Standard Operating Procedures
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been developed in consultation with pathologists, scientists, consumer groups and ethicists to ensure practical, high quality, standardized sample and data collection and processing across all collection centres and protection of patient-donor safety and privacy. The Victorian Cancer Biobank has developed and implemented protocols covering:
- Tissue sample processing and archiving;
- Patient data collection and patient identification protection;
- Equipment maintenance; and
- Sample distribution to qualified researchers.
These protocols are designed to maximize the molecular and histological integrity and quality of the samples.
The preservation of materials for research is a careful science. Every step from resection to storage can diminish the usefulness of the specimen for research purposes. The VCB has practices and procedures to ensure excellent quality specimens, including the following collection and storage practices:
- Tissues are frozen within 60 minutes of collection;
- Blood is processed and stored within 2 hours of collection.
- Mirror collections of tissue and blood specimens are stored in -80°C and the vapour phase of liquid nitrogen;
- All FFPE and O.C.T cases are verified by a pathologist;
- All FFPE and O.C.T sectioned cases come with a complimentary H&E slide. verification;
- All samples are labelled with a unique Tissue Bank Number;
- Storage equipment is checked and monitored daily.
Dedicated specially-trained personnel at each biobank extract comprehensive clinical data from patients and patient’s charts and enter it into a central-database. VCB can provide detailed, non-identifying information to researchers on clinical data elements. Case reviews are conducted prior to providing data to researchers.
Training and Compliance
The VCB staff members are qualified medical scientists with formal training in biomedical and/or clinical research, nursing and pathology. Personnel at all of our biobank sites, including the staff at VCB Central Operations are trained and tested on all SOPs annually to ensure compliance and encourage professional development.
VCB is dedicated to continuous improvement and reviews its policies and procedures on an annual basis.