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Spanish researchers open first biobank for living human brain samples

Date: 1.11.2023 

Research into brain cancers and testing drugs for the treatment of them usually involves the use of experimental models, including mice. It’s not until a major discovery is made that the search for patient samples begins, and then begins the process of confirming the discovery in humans.

Kredit: Laura M. Lombardía/CNIO.Finding the necessary number of human samples can be time-consuming and usually requires researchers to liaise with other institutions and comply with legal and ethical requirements. But, researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) have devised a solution: a repository of living samples from patients with brain metastases.

The living repository, or biobank, is part of RENACER, an acronym for the National Brain Metastasis Network and, fittingly, the Spanish word for ‘rebirth’. When a patient with brain metastasis attends one of RENACER’s network of 18 hospitals for surgery, they can donate a tiny part of their brain to the biobank.

Because the cells are kept alive, they can be studied for their response to specific drugs, paving the way to create individual patient ‘avatars’ by which the most appropriate and effective treatment can be identified.

But, beyond collecting tissue samples, RENACER has used RNA and exosome sequencing to profile over 150 brain metastases. The collected data is put into a database open to the international scientific community.

Image source: Laura M. Lombardía/CNIO.





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