How did the Midwest Biorepository (MWBR) get started? Formerly known as the Ohio BioRepository, the MWBR was developed to assist the emerging biomedical sector in Ohio by providing research specimens. Initially, the MWBR was established and managed by Dr. Tony Dennis and his colleagues at BioOhio and was funded by the State of Ohio’s Third Frontier Program. Now managed by Phylogeny, its mission continues to be to provide access to high quality human tissue and associated information to the research community at large.
What tissue samples are the MWBR interested in? The MWBR is interested in quality biospecimens for use in medical research. This primarily includes all expired (College of American Pathology 10 yr. guidelines) archival, surgical, FFPE (formalin fixed paraffin embedded) tissues. We are interested in all diseases, including cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory indications. While most of the tissue will be from standard biopsy and resection procedures, we are also interested in bone marrow aspirates and fine needle aspirates. Any tissue being considered must have corresponding clinical data that can be reasonably queried and retrieved. All data sets will be de-identified to protect patient privacy and comply with HIPAA guidelines.
What is the benefit to your hospital in considering donating to the MWBR? Participation in the MWBR represents an opportunity for pathologists to strengthen their role in furthering medical and scientific research. By donating to the MWBR, the pathologists’ vitally important role can occur without the additional overhead of running their own biorepository. In addition, donation presents potentially large cost-saving advantages over long-term storage and/or routine scheduled disposal of archival material, which often costs thousands of dollars annually. Phylogeny will coordinate with you and will bear the expense of moving your donation to the MWBR.
Why is this tissue useful in research? High-quality biospecimens are essential to further discovery in medicine so that therapies can be tailored to individual patients based on their unique genetic characteristics and the specific molecular features of their disease. Biospecimens can be used to identify disease-related proteins or other biomarkers that could lead to new screening, diagnostic and prognostic tests. Biospecimens can also help researchers determine which treatments will be the most appropriate, effective, and least toxic based on a person’s disease-related biomarkers or genetics. Specimen in which outcome and disease progression are already known accelerate discovery considerably.
Can any grant or allowance be considered in lieu of an outright donation? Because human tissue is involved, donation results in the best approach for all parties. However, there are often potential other ways this collaboration can benefit the donating hospital, and we welcome the opportunity to discuss other partnerships with you.
Where will the blocks be stored once donated? The blocks will be stored at the MWBR’s headquarters in Powell, OH, a suburb of Columbus, or in a climate controlled warehouse nearby.
Who is responsible for the logistics of transporting the tissue? The MWBR will assume responsibility and all costs associated with transporting the tissue to Columbus, OH.
Does our hospital still have access to the specimen once donated? The MWBR’s preference is for the donation to be unencumbered: however, logistics can easily be set up to protect cases from depletion if the donating institution deems it necessary. Systems are already in place.
What type of clinical information will the MWBR need? Initially, none. However, as research requests come to the MWBR, retrospective data mining will need to be done. This will involve building cohorts of specific disease states. Age, gender, ethnicity and basic pathology report information are often all that is ever needed. However, some research requests may ask for progression information, outcome information, medical history, and treatment history. No protected health information will be sought. One unit of PHI considered the most benign, the medical record number (MRN) maintained by the hospital, often will serve as the bridge between de-identified data sets and the specimens. But even the MRN does not need to be included in data sets.
Who does the clinical data mining? Either a hospital employee or a Phylogeny staff member (under the umbrella of a business associates agreement), whichever is the least burdensome to the hospital and most agreeable to the hospital’s IRB. If needed, a business associates agreement can allow Phylogeny and the MWBR to act as an honest broker between the hospital and the research community.
How will hospital staff be compensated? Phylogeny will reimburse the hospital at an agreed upon hourly rate for its employee’s time.
What types of requests does the MWBR typically handle? We receive a steady stream of research requests, mostly involving biomarker research, for cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory disease biospecimens.
What prompts a query for new data mining? A request from researchers that extends beyond currently annotated specimen at the MWBR, or requests for more extensive information from a previously used case.
Does the MWBR receive funds when tissue is distributed to researchers? Yes. In accordance with industry standards, used by entities like the National Institutes for Health and the National Cancer Institute, the MWBR receives funds for lab services cost recovery and data management.
How often do requests for data mining come? Generally, data mining requests come weekly. The time required for any one request can vary greatly depending on the researchers’ requests – anything from a few days to a couple of weeks.
How does the MWBR qualify researchers who potentially use the tissue? The MWBR screens all research requests and only works with recognized and reputable institutions and investigators.
Has the MWBR itself undergone an IRB review? The MWBR operates under an annually reviewed blanket IRB issued by Quorum. Additionally, each hospital that donates to the MWBR has its own IRB approve its participation with the MWBR. The MWBR is a member of the International Society of Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER), and regularly reviews and implements industry best practices. The MWBR also operates a CLIA-certified laboratory.