International Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium (IMTBC)

About our International Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium (IMTBC)

Why is a melanoma tissue bank important?

Primary tumor tissue is a key driver of research. Similar tissue banks for other cancers, such as breast and prostate, have resulted in major advances in personalized medical treatment. The availability of this tissue is critical to make significant advances and find the CURE for melanoma.

What is the goal of our tissue bank?

Our goal is to establish our IMTBC with branches at four medical research institutions across the US and one international site. Each institution is recognized for its proven commitment to melanoma research. This network will gather 500 specimens with full annotation and accompanying blood and urine samples over two years. Public and private medical researchers worldwide, engaged in qualified research, will have access to our bank for minimal administrative fees.

What is our tissue bank?

Our tissue bank is a collection of tissue samples gathered to conduct melanoma research. The tissue sample is taken from a patient’s primary melanoma tumor and preserved by flash freezing it to keep the RNA alive.

With our tissue bank, researchers can:

  • Understand and develop targeted therapies for more effective and personalized treatments
  • Find biomarkers that will allow doctors to predict which patients’ melanoma will progress
  • Find biomarkers that allow doctors to predict who is susceptible to developing melanoma
  • Develop preventative treatments for those patients who are susceptible to melanoma

Why is melanoma tissue difficult to collect?

All cancerous tumors, other than melanoma, are removed in a hospital operating room. The vast majority of melanoma tumors are removed at a dermatologist’s office, where the necessary staff and equipment to preserve the primary tumor tissue is unavailable.

Preserving the tissue for research requires the following:

  • Doctor must fully inform the patient of the research process and obtain signed consent forms to take a sample of the primary tumor tissue
  • Additional blood samples, urine samples, and a full patient history are critical to providing a completely annotated patient sample for researchers.
  • The tumor must be an appropriate size. Many melanoma tumors are too small to take a sample for a tissue bank.
  • To preserve the RNA that is critical for research, a tissue sample must be flash frozen to -80 F in a specialized freezer within an hour of removal.

Why is our tissue bank difficult to create?

To create an International Tissue Bank Consortium, an external organization must take on the sizeable administrative responsibility and the related costs of the project. A neutral regulatory body is required to make sure the bank is accessible to outside researchers. The primary challenges are the coordination of different medical institutions and the creation of permanent infrastructure for the tissue bank. $3.2 million will cover the initial construction and first 3 years of maintenance. Then, the financial needs reduce significantly.

What does it cost to create our tissue bank?

It costs approximately $6,400 to collect and properly process a single tissue sample for research because the fully annotated sample requires blood and urine samples, epidemiology, digital photography, patient history, freezing, storage, shipping, and legal documentation. A tissue bank must have a diverse sample pool of sufficient size and demographics. To be most effective, our IMTBC must collect 500 tissue samples totaling $3.2 million.

How is our tissue bank funded?

Thanks to generous donations by our supporters, we have the initial start-up funds of $800,000. An additional $2.4 million is needed to complete the tissue bank and start critical research. In collaboration with AIM, Skin of Steel, our sister organization, is helping secure funding for our four US branches and one international branch, and will assist in executive administration.

Together we have made progess. Let’s continue to reshape melanoma research.

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