Biobanks serve as platforms for biomedical studies. In many scientific publications one can find biobanks being used as research enablers. Following are 2 prominent examples of how well-characterized biospecimens can accelerate cancer research.
Antibodies development against Breast Cancer – Herceptin®
The development of trastuzumab (Herceptin®) for the treatment of breast cancer illustrates how access to well-characterized and well-preserved tissue samples can help researchers. Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (EGRF-2) normally controls aspects of cell growth and division. Biospecimens taken from tumors that were stored in the NCI Cooperative Breast Cancer Tissue Resource showed that EGFR-2 can be amplified in 20 to 30 percent of breast cancer cases. By knowing which cases overexpressed this problematic protein, researchers developed trastuzumab as an antibody to block this receptor. It may not have been possible to test this approach on the general breast cancer patient population. The biospecimens allowed researchers to develop a highly effective therapy targeted specifically for a sub-population of breast cancer patients.
Expansion the use of Gleevec® to GIST pateints
Gleevec® was originally developed for the treatment of a form of leukemia by targeting the BCR-ABL protein. After analyzing biospecimens collected from different tumor types, scientists discovered that a mutant form of a related protein is responsible for the progression of a rare but deadly type of cancer, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). Subsequent clinical trials showed Gleevec to be effective against GIST, and it was approved for that use by the Food and Drug Administration.