State-of-the-art laboratories at the Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori: the creation of a regional biobank

4 Jan 2011

A new building of laboratories now accommodates the growing scientific activity of the Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori di Milano (INT). December saw the inauguration of the Tumour Biobank, the hub of Lombardy's Biobank network.

The official opening of a new Biobank took place on 15th December. The Colon Cancer Biobank is a storage facility to archive tumour samples from all across the region for use in research and experiments.

The annual report on the scientific activity at INT was also presented. The event took place at the AmadeoLab, an 11,000 sqm facility that currently hosts 160 scientists, technicians and assistants. 3,650 sqm are exclusively dedicated to translational research, a specific scientific sector aiming to transfer as swiftly as possible "from bench to bedside" the results obtained.

"AmadeoLab is the realisation of a model that has inspired our Institute since its establishment 80 years ago. In this model, scientists and clinicians work together side by side to bring the fruits of research directly to the patient." Said Antonio Colombo, the president of the Fondazione Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori. "Today our clinicians and researchers can keep working on the translation of scientific knowledge into practice in an up-to-date environment, where they can share spaces and technologies, optimise time and have plenty of opportunities to exchange daily information."

Located in the new laboratories are the research facilities of the Department of Experimental Oncology and Molecular Medicine and of the Department of Preventive and Predictive Medicine. The scientific activity conducted shows steady growth: in 2009, INT researchers published 465 among papers and articles on national and international peer reviewed journals, with an overall Impact Factor reaching the extraordinary mark of 2,272, a result that places INT in first position among the single disease institutes in Italy.

By sharing spaces and facilities, resources and services can be accessed in more efficient ways, while multidisciplinary integration and expertise exchange from the various departments are enhanced.

"With these new laboratories" said Gerolamo Corno, Director General of the Istituto Nazionale Tumori "our Insitute has all the required assets to be a driving force in the development and innovation in oncology. Lombardy health care system will, as a consequence, be able to offer even higher quality services, both at a national and an international level."

Within the new laboratories, the Tumoral Tissues Biobank of the Regional Oncology Network was also inaugurated. The Biobank was established thanks to funding provided by Regione Lombardia and Fondazione Cariplo,overall amounting to 1,5m Euros.

With two freezer rooms containing mechanical refrigerators freezing at -80°C and a room with liquid nitrogen tanks freezing at -160°C, the bank collects and stores tumoural samples that are available for use both in research projects and in predictive examinations performed to establish the possible evolution of the single patient's disease.

"The management of biological samples is a challenging field" said Marco Pierotti, Scientific Director at the Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori. "For this reason, after consulting other Ethics Committee and bioethics experts, we prepared a document with some ethical and legal recommendations. In particular, we think it important that biobanks are regulated by a uniform code of conduct at a national and international level; that they are totally independent in their decisions, and uninfluenced either by patients and donors or by the body using the sample. Also, tissue donations should be voluntary and gratuitous. Possible income from the use of donated samples, such as profits deriving from patents, need to be invested again directly in research."

Source: Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori

The Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori is a member of the Organisation of European Cancer Institutes (OECI). Find out more about the institute on the OECI section of ecancer.