Part of the effort to find more effective treatments for myeloproliferative neoplasias is collection of patient samples before and during the therapy, to analyze them and try to understand prognosis and response to therapy. This brought about the need for a large, specific MPN Tissue Bank. These samples are used for translational research to explore pathophysiology of the diseases, as described, or to test new medications specifically for MPN. MD Anderson has the largest single center MPN-specific tissue bank, with samples from more than 1,000 patients, accompanied by a clinical database with clinical information for all of these patients. The Tissue Bank and the Clinical Database have been organized over the last 6 years by Dr. Verstovsek. This is the largest single institution tissue bank and database in the world.
Effective tissue procurement and utilization is vital for meaningful translational research activities. The tissue bank for MPN ensures efficient and highly coordinated procurement, processing, use and storage of blood and bone marrow samples from patients with MPD and other tissues as needed or requested. The bank maintains a repository of blood samples (including peripheral blood, bone marrow biopsies, and bone marrow aspirates) for laboratory use, with an effective coding system for all laboratory specimens to ensure patient confidentiality and prevent experimental bias. Continuous communication between the clinical and laboratory investigators, research nurses, biostatisticians and hematopathologists, as well as standardized operating procedures for activities, provides for optimal tissue collection, accurate processing, analysis and storage of each sample. Thus, the function of the tissue bank is to facilitate acquisition, preservation, analysis and dispersal of clinical samples and to provide hematopathologic characterization of tissues and specimens for translational research projects. The database also collects information on patient demographics, disease stage and characteristics, treatment approaches, responses, duration of response, time to progress and other clinically valuable information.
Further development of the Tissue Bank and Clinical Database must be implemented. At present Dr. Verstovsek has a small group of 3 laboratory technicians dedicated to MPN research. Much more can and needs to be done within Dr. Verstovsek’s laboratory, but also in collaboration with other investigators. The function of the MPN tissue bank will be overseen by a Research Committee, who will also provide scientific review of proposals which request tissue and/or information from the tissue bank or database from prospective investigators from both within and outside MDACC. The committee will determine a priority among proposals based on sample availability, scientific merit of the proposed study, and likelihood of its leading to treatment for MPN. Separately, funding for the function of the translational research will be sought as preliminary data has been acquired, and a focused Senior Scientific Editor position is planned for grant writing purposes.