CONCERT Biobank’s support for medical research grows

By Linda Music

In the seven years following its establishment, CONCERT’s Biobank supported a total of nine research projects with specimens. In little over one year (from July 2019 to August 2020), the biobank has matched that number thanks to the hard work of the dedicated biobank team and manager, Dr. Joseph Po.

“We’ve definitely had a lot more engagement with oncology researchers particularly at Ingham Institute whose projects have driven this increase,” Joseph explains.

“In addition, because of the CONCERT-wide push we’ve had South West Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s researchers talking and collaborating more with each other.”

But it’s not just local researchers who are taking advantage of the varied specimens housed in CONCERT’S biobank.

“We’re currently supplying specimens for an RPA study on mouth cancers in young populations. We collect the tumour tissue specimens from Liverpool Hospital which we then supply as fresh frozen specimens for the project.”

Joseph explains that the project is extremely important as the epidemiology of mouth cancer tumours in young people is very different to tumours in older patients. However, there has been a shortage of available specimens for the study.

“As specimens are limited, we are one of many biobanks supplying to this project.”

CONCERT’s biobank is also supplying blood samples for a research study into colorectal cancers, which is specifically examining blood markers with the aim of accurately predicting cancer recurrence. Similarly, the biobank is also supplying various specimens for three research studies looking into the most lethal form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme.

“We’re very excited about the research we’ve been able to support over the last year. The key to our success has been building relationships with key senior researchers and having clear and open channels of communication, not only between the biobank and researchers, but with other biobanks as well.”