Today marks the launch of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER)’s Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada. Over the next four days, biobank representatives from different sectors all over the world will connect, exchange knowledge and potentially build up new collaborations. IBBL (Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg) will be present and exhibit the results of its latest research projects.
This year’s agenda features symposia, roundtable discussions and workshops under the theme “Aligning Biobanking Practice with Evolving Evidence and Innovation”. Dr Mathieson and Mrs Sandt will represent IBBL and will showcase five of our most recent research projects during the poster presentation session, including:
The important role of control population collections in biobanks
Biospecimens from a healthy population are required for multiple scientific purposes. Through an ongoing collaboration with the ZithaKlinik, IBBL explains how the implementation of a healthy population cohort has enabled us to validate several processing methods, establish reference ranges for new biomarkers, and provide reliable controls to end users conducting research in particular disease areas.
RNA and miRNA stability in PFPE tissue blocks after seven years of storage
In 2016, a study led by Dr Mathieson from IBBL revealed that tissue blocks fixed using the PAXgene Tissue fixation system then embedded in paraffin (PFPE) are amenable to immunohistochemistry and offer improved preservation of nucleic acids compared to formalin. With the support of the Imperial College London and the Wales Cancer Bank, he then demonstrated that RNA in PFPE degrades at room temperature storage over seven years in the dark, whereas miRNA appears stable.
External quality assurance of genomic DNA and cell-free DNA
In the context of the ISBER-endorsed Proficiency Testing programme, IBBL’s researchers analysed the use of Agilent 4200 TapeStation sytem for the purpose of quality control of DNA samples extracted from clinical material. It turned out that the system is high throughput and user-friendly, and provides DIN values, a quality metric for DNA samples. Particularly in the case of cfDNA, the 4200 TapeStation system allows simultaneous assessment of the size of the extracted cfDNA and of any potential contamination by white blood cell DNA.
Residual formalin impacts on nucleic acid yield and quality
DNA and RNA is less fragmented when extracted from tissue preserved in a non-formalin fixative compared with formalin: but to what extent does residual formalin in the tissue processor impact its quality? IBBL’s researchers answered this question using PAXgene tissue fixative, and came to the conclusion that formalin contamination reduces yield and quality of RNA and quality of DNA.
Particular attention is expected to be drawn by the abstract that was approved by the IBSER Committee for an oral presentation. On May 11, Dr Mathieson will give a clear description of how RNA and miRNA expression in FFPE tissues can be used to assess extended ischemic and formalin-fixation times. These results were obtained in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute’s Biospecimen Pre-analytical Variables Program.