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Mesothelioma Research Gets a Boost From New Tissue Bank

495116_tissue smallA new biobank of mesothelioma cell samples in the UK is set to help advance mesothelioma research around the world.

The recently-opened mesothelioma tissue bank, called MesobanK UK, will be an international resource of cells specifically for use in mesothelioma research.

Mesothelioma Cell Samples and More

When the biobank is complete within the next few years, it is expected to contain samples of tissue, blood and pleural fluid from 300 patients with mesothelioma as well as 26 new mesothelioma cell lines.

In addition to these cells, which are vital for mesothelioma research, the biobank will also include details from the medical records of these mesothelioma patients, collected by permission.

“MesobanK has been created to establish a bioresource of pleural mesothelioma tissue linked to detailed anonymised [made anonymous] clinical data,” says Dr. Robert Rintoul of Papworth Hospital in Cambridge where the mesothelioma tissue bank is housed.

The Importance of a Mesothelioma Biobank

Biobanks or tissue banks are storage facilities for biological samples that mesothelioma researchers need to develop and test news drugs and theories about underlying causes and potential cures.

Because mesothelioma is such a rare cancer, it is important for researchers to have access to a collection of blood, pleural fluid, and tissue samples for testing.

A Standardized Tissue Bank for Mesothelioma Research

Although several countries maintain mesothelioma tissue banks, the samples themselves are often housed at different institutions and there may be no standard practice for their collection.

“Although a few UK-based clinical/research groups hold fresh tissue from small numbers of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, these collections are not formally linked and do not involve the collection of tissue and data in accordance with any universal standard operating procedures,” says Dr. Rintoul.

In contrast, MesobanK UK’s tissue, blood, and lung fluid samples will be collected according to a strict set of standards and will be housed in one location. Samples will be usable for up to ten years.

How Mesothelioma Tissue Samples Will Be Used

MesobanK UK plans to collect about 100 sample sets a year from mesothelioma patients. Samples will be supplied to researchers who request them, as long as they meet the following conditions:

  1. They are conducting research linked to improving prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma or asbestos-related disease
  2. They agree to acknowledge MesobanK in publications
  3. They agree to share the data they glean from research conducted on MesobanK samples

The tissue bank is also creating a microarray test that researchers can use to evaluate potential new mesothelioma biomarkers. It is being developed using mesothelioma tissue samples from 750 mesothelioma patients.

The UK has the highest per capita rate of asbestos-related disease in the world.


Rintoul, R, et al, “MesobanK UK: An international mesothelioma bioresource”, Thorax, October 14, 2015, Epub ahead of print

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