Friends for Life launches normal tissue database to assist breast cancer fight
Friends for Life launched its online database of normal breast tissue and biomolecules to the Indiana breast cancer research community at the annual Amelia Project retreat and scientific session on Feb. 10. The database will be a critical resource for research efforts around the world aimed at identifying biomarkers and other diagnostic and therapeutic tools for use against early breast cancer.
This biorepository of normal tissue and biomolecules was established to meet a need voiced by the research community; that is, in order to better understand what is abnormal in breast cancer, the breast's normal biology and developmental genetics need to be more clearly defined. The database is one of three components of Friends for Life. The other two parts – 1) the mechanism for the collection of tissue, blood and saliva from normal donors and 2) the bank of blood, DNA, and frozen human breast tissue – have been in place since 2005.
The Web-based database includes additional information on the tissue bank, the standard operating procedures used for specimen collection, and instructions on how to request and obtain tissue. The online tool can be queried with regard to available specimens and the attributes of the specimens' donors.
Susan Clare, MD, PhD, assistant professor of surgery, has overseen the development of the database, and Jie Sun, MS, also a member of the Department of Surgery, is the database programmer and manager. All of these efforts have been directed by Anna Maria Storniolo, MD, principal investigator of Friends for Life.
Friends for Life is very much a collaborative effort among dedicated clinicians, basic scientists, consumer advocates and volunteers of the Indiana University Cancer Center, its Breast Cancer Program and the Catherine Peachey Fund, Inc. The response of the community to the request for volunteers has also been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. The tissue bank is currently the repository of more than 2,500 specimens collected over a two-year period, largely donated from women participating in the annual Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" in Indianapolis. All specimens are annotated with detailed information about the donor; mostly from women who have no personal history of breast cancer.
The data generated using the DNA from this project has already been utilized to assist researchers. For example, Bryan Schneider, MD, and other IU Cancer Center researchers identified certain types of DNA mutation (single nucleotide polymorphisms) associated with hot flashes. Future plans include collection and storage of plasma and RNA. The uses of normal breast tissue are many and include the isolation of RNA for gene microarrays, the inclusion of these tissues on tissue microarrays and the cataloging of the epigenetic regulation of normal breast tissue.
Friends for Life is an important complement to national efforts and was recently cited in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Bulletin for aiding NCI's Breast Cancer Premalignancy Program, which may lead to real advances in understanding and intervening in early breast cancer and precancerous breast conditions.