This project has found its natural development in the PatB Network.
The development of molecular medicine relies largely upon availability of human tissues, for validation of biomarkers used for diagnosis, prognosis and therapy. A huge quantity of tissues affected by any kind of diseases is stored in the pathology archives of any hospital. Tissue biopsies or surgical specimens are fixed and paraffin-embedded for routine practice to obtain histological sections for a final diagnosis and staging of the diseases. After a few sections are cut, the tissues are stored for decades in the hospital archives.
A European project, "Archive tissues: improving molecular medicine research and clinical practice - IMPACTS", involving 21 institutions in 11 European countries, has just started, with the last call of the 6th European FP (www.impactsnetwork.eu). The participants are the major European experts in tissues molecular pathology and the first developers of molecular methods in archive tissues. The main objectives of the project are the validation and the standardization of molecular methods in archive tissues, the utilization of new fixatives that better preserve DNA, RNA and proteins, but also the preparation of new projects on the development of large bio-banking systems of archive tissues.
This project has four major goals:
-The first one is the development of a very wide biobanking system by using the already existing pathology archives present in any European hospital. This will give an already well organized biobanking system, related to the clinical records, with a high level of clinical information and sometimes the availability of follow-up and survival data. The systems has the paramount advantage of being costless.
-The second one is the improvement of a very large virtual archive tissue bank in which the pathology archives of many European hospitals in specific geographic areas would be inter-connected through a local and a general informatics system. This system would be connected with the other local areas to build up a virtual archive tissue bank related to over 38 million European inhabitants and 128 hospitals.
-The third major goal is the development of local groups of hospitals, called “Molecular Evidence Medicine” (MEM) groups, related to the local banking system. Any hospital in each area refers to an experienced molecular laboratory, which becomes the reference point for molecular clinical research and diffusion of the molecular medicine methods within the MEM group. In this way, tissue bio-banking will be directly related to biomarker research and clinical validation. In this way no tissue will have to be transferred from country to country in multicentric project.
-The fourth major objective is to develop a new type of paraffin-embedded tissue bank fixing the surgical left-over of the hospitals by new fixatives (Stanta G, Pozzi Mucelli S, Petrera F, Bonin S, Bussolati G; “A novel fixative improves opportunities of nucleic acids and proteomic analysis in human archive's tissues.”., Diagn Mol Pathol. 15:115-23; 2006.) that can preserve DNA, RNA and especially proteins in the same way as in fresh frozen material. This will allow studying archive tissue biomarkers also with proteomics techniques. Analysis can be done after careful micro-dissection of tissues that is easier in fixed paraffin-embedded tissues. This new fixative testing is very important also for the European process of formaldhyde banning from the work environment.