When you fundraise for Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, one of the many things that you are helping to fund is the Brain Tumour Tissue Bank. Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is the sole funder of the Brain Tumour Tissue Bank, which is housed in state-of-the-art facilities located at University Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario.
We recently went on a tour of the facility, which is located close to the surgery theatres to ensure that tissue samples are collected and processed as quickly as possible.
The Brain Tumour Tissue Bank started when Iain, a nine year old boy, became ill with an inoperable brain stem tumour. His family realized that there was no cure and that research was the only way to find a cure. The Brain Tumour Tissue Bank officially opened on June 10, 1991, the first anniversary of Iain’s death.
Since the Tissue Bank started in 1991, almost 2,000 tissue cases (yielding around 10,000 samples) have been collected. Depending on the size of the removed tissue, multiple samples are prepared from each case. Samples are snap frozen in liquid nitrogen and a matching piece to each frozen sample is placed in formalin, which preserves and fixes the tissue so slides can be cut and stained. This allows the tumour type to be clearly identified through a microscope. Most of the tissue is kept frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196ºC and some in ultra-low freezers at -80ºC.
These tissue samples are then made available to researchers (shipped in dry ice) both locally and around the world. 140+ research projects have used tissue from the tissue bank, resulting in 56 publications. One researcher in the USA was so grateful for the tissue samples that he recently donated $100 of his own money to say thank you! Shipments continue to be sent each year, in the hopes that one day, the cause of and a cure for brain tumours will be found.