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Virtual Shared Specimen Resource ‘Essential’

Virtual Shared Specimen Resource ‘Essential’

BETHESDA, Maryland—A National Cancer Institute (NCI) panel has declared
the creation of a Virtual Shared Specimen Resource (VSSR) to be
"absolutely necessary for advancing the detection, classification, and
treatment of gynecologic cancer."

The envisioned resource would improve specimen collection and allow
researchers to share specimens more widely, according to the committee. It
would also enhance collaborations across disciplines and institutions aimed
at answering important questions about cervical, endometrial, and ovarian

"The VSSR will enable the research community to exploit emerging
genomics, proteomics, and informatics technologies to identify gynecologic
cancers early in the disease process and to discover new targets for their
prevention and treatment," said the Gynecologic Cancers Progress Review
Group. Its report was released at a meeting of the National Cancer Advisory
Board (NCAB).

The NCI panel added that the VSSR would be virtual in the sense that
information describing the specimens would be housed in a central database
but the specimens themselves would reside with the institutions that
collected them.

The VSSR will enable molecular profiling to identify the distinct
signatures of specific types of gynecologic cancer cells. This information
will help answer a number of important questions: How can women at high risk
for these cancers be identified? How can ovarian and endometrial cancer be
detected early? What strategies can be developed to prevent gynecologic
cancers? How can researchers develop better treatments?

Although many specimen collections now exist, they are limited in their
usefulness for many reasons, the report said. Specimens may not have been
processed or stored appropriately. The banked specimens may not include the
needed tissue types; adequate informed consent may not exist; or the
specimens may not be sufficiently linked to clinical data.

Overcoming Barriers


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