Dr. Verstovsek has established and organized the largest single-center MPN-specific tissue bank and clinical database in the world. Tissue and blood samples from patients with myeloproliferative neoplasias are crucial for developing more effective treatments for MPN. Samples collected before and during treatment can be used to understand prognosis and response to therapy. In addition, patient samples can be used for translational research to explore the underlying biology and pathophysiology of MPN or to test new medications specifically for MPN. Currently, the tissue bank contains samples from more than 1,000 patients with an accompanying clinical database with corresponding clinical information.
Effective tissue procurement and utilization is vital for meaningful translational research activities. The tissue bank for MPN ensures efficient and highly coordinated procurement, processing, storage and use of blood and bone marrow samples (and other tissues as needed or requested) from patients with MPN. 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 disease progression 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 is overseen by a Research Committee, who provide scientific review of proposals from prospective investigators from within and outside MD Anderson requesting tissue and/or information from the tissue bank or database. The committee determines a priority among proposals based on sample availability, scientific merit of the proposed study, and likelihood of its leading to treatment for MPN.