Friday 12 April, 2024

More donations are needed to help drive cancer research

40,000 Victorians have generously provided much-needed blood and tissue samples for lifesaving cancer research.

The Victorian Cancer Biobank (VCB), which collects a wide range of biospecimens for cancer research, reached the milestone in April.

VCB’s biospecimen repository, which is one of the largest in the world, has played an integral role in the advancement of scientific discoveries to improve clinical outcomes of a cancer diagnosis.

Dr Wayne Ng said that people are the true power behind biobanking.

“40,000 Victorians have participated in our biobanking program, meaning that we have been able to provide their precious tissue and blood samples to progress many cancer research and development projects both locally and internationally,” Dr Ng said.

Dr Ng also said that this incredible milestone could only have been achieved through the strong partnership among all the consortium members which include Cancer Council Victoria, Austin Health, Eastern Health, Melbourne Health, Monash Health, and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. The Victorian Biobank Consortium is supported by the Victorian Government, through the Victorian Cancer Agency.

“In 2022-23 alone, the VCB has serviced 60 projects, with 82% of them based in Victoria; two-thirds being long term projects; 17% of them were collaborations with biotechnology or pharmaceutical clients,” Dr Ng added.

Melbourne researcher Dr Jessica da Gama Duarte from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute is using samples from the VCB to identify a novel pan-cancer diagnostic test to detect cancers early. This Victorian Cancer Agency-funded project uses blood to identify diagnostic cancer biomarkers.

“Researchers often ask me how I obtain hundreds of patient samples with available anonymised clinical data. I always say that there is one place I go to first, and that’s the VCB,” she added.

Dr John Robert Wood, 84, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in July 2023, did not think twice when he donated his colon tissue sample to the VCB.

“It was just common sense. My GP explained the benefits of doing it. I’m an academic, and I know that researchers need as much data as possible to achieve their goals,” he said.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper AM, was proud that they were able to support the VCB in reaching a key milestone.

“Thanks to generous Victorians like John, over 300 cancer research projects have been supported, with more than 450,000 of these samples readily available for emerging research from all over the world.”

Victorian Minister for Health, The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas is thrilled so many Victorians are donating samples for lifesaving cancer research.

“It is an amazing milestone to hit 40,000 blood and tissue donations, this will help our talented researchers continue important research to help ensure Victorians receive the best quality cancer care.”

Dr Ng added that whilst reaching 40,000 donors was a significant milestone in VCB’s history, more people are needed to give generously to advance the next breakthrough in cancer research.

“We have a catalogue of over 460,000 biospecimens, however, we’re still low on plasma, and tissue samples. We also need vital tissue samples from low survival cancers such as lung cancer and pancreatic cancer,” Dr Ng added.

John, who is now recovering well from his treatment, added: “We owe it to our children and grandchildren to donate our samples to cancer research,” John added.

If you are interested in donating tissue to the Victorian Cancer Biobank, or would like to learn more, please visit:

The Victorian Cancer Biobank through the Cancer Council Victoria as Lead Agency is supported by the Victorian Government through the Victorian Cancer Agency, a business unit of the Department of Health.

RAP Victorian Cancer Biobank would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work. We would also like to pay respect to the elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.

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Consortium members

Cancer Council Victoria Austin Health Eastern Health Monash Health Peter Mac Royal Melbourne Hospital

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