In an exciting announcement, two UK universities have joined together with two cancer charities to create a young people’s and children’s cancer biobank.
The Universities of York and Newcastle have come together with Cancer Research UK and Blood Cancer UK to create the VIVO Biobank. The biobank aims to provide cancer researchers with a central collection of cell and tissue samples from young people and children’s cancer patients.
The samples will provide an important resource as many young people and children’s cancers are rare. For this reason, it has proven difficult for cancer researchers to access sufficient samples from patients for research purposes.
The VIVO Biobank
The VIVO Biobank is the merger of two existing biobanks. One was dedicated to leukaemia research at York, and the other was for the study of solid tumours at Newcastle. This integration allows genetic and clinical data to be more available, assisting future research into these cancers.
In the UK, there are around 4200 young people and children’s cancer cases annually.
Co-Deputy Director of VIVO Biobank, Professor Alexandra Smith from the Epidemiology and Cancer Statistics Group in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York, said: “Bringing our biobanks together is going to enable more children and young people to donate samples and along with the additional clinical data provide an invaluable resource for scientists.
“This will make more research possible on prevention, diagnostics and treatments for children and young people with cancer than ever before.”
The future of young people and children’s cancer research
Young people and children’s cancer are much less common than adult cancer. The most common cancer in children and young people are acute leukaemia and cancers of the brain and spinal cord.
Young people and children’s cancer research has been limited compared to adult cancer due to a lack of available data. The VIVO Biobank will revolutionise future studies and research.
Director of VIVO Biobank, Professor Deb Tweddle from the Translational & Clinical Research Institute and the Centre for Cancer at Newcastle University said: “This is a huge opportunity for the UK to lead the way in Children’s and Young people’s cancer research by providing a single point of access to researchers for precious samples, particularly for researchers who may want to work on many different types of cancer.
“Around 80% of childhood and young people’s cancer is cured by current treatments and we hope VIVO biobank will promote research for those types not currently curable and lead to the development of kinder treatments for others.”
Cancer Research UK’s Children’s and Young People’s Research Lead, Dr Laura Danielson, said: “We have seen great progress in treating children’s and young people’s cancer over the years, but more work still needs to be done. This is why we are proud to be supporting the VIVO Biobank, which will help drive a bedrock of research that will take us to a future where more children and young people with cancer will survive and go on to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.”