Access to European biobanks is key for the successful development of precision medicine. To demonstrate capability and feasibility of European biobanks, BBMRI-ERIC is piloting a use case of a large colorectal cancer cohort (CRC-Cohort) consisting of tumor tissue samples with rich diagnostic and treatment data from various biobanks across Europe. The CRC-Cohort is developed as part of the EU-funded ADOPT BBMRI-ERIC project and will become a permanent asset of BBMRI-ERIC after completion of the project. As a long-term joint European endeavour, it enables existing, well-established biobanks to connect with BBMRI-ERIC and to obtain increased recognition and visibility for their research assets, which is further expected to bring along new users and novel data.
The target of the CRC-Cohort project is to gather comprehensive datasets together with tissue material (frozen and/or FFPE) of 10,000 existing colon cancer patients from selected European biobanks. Defined by an international group of colorectal cancer experts, a broad clinical database structured in our CRC-Cohort data model will be soon centrally available for the research community to query and identify their specific research questions in colorectal cancer. In practice, BBMRI-ERIC operates as a facilitator providing access to the centrally stored, anonymised data, while access to any specific samples or additional data will be granted by the local biobanks based on their standard access procedures.
Collection of the CRC-Cohort datasets across Europe has been a great learning experience. The heterogeneity and magnitude of various administrative and regulatory procedures in a multinational setting together with certain organisational, communicational and IT challenges have occasionally delayed the collection process. After overcoming these hurdles, the data collection process is currently making good progress with over 5000 colorectal cancer cases having been validated and uploaded to the central database.
The CRC-Cohort is expected to enable high-quality research and innovation that will help improve colorectal cancer treatment and facilitate precision medicine. The CRC-cohort as such is not restricted to any specific research approach, it will enable a large spectrum of different types of research. Furthermore, the procedures and the IT tools developed within the cohort are expected to be reusable in subsequent efforts focusing on different disease entities. The lessons learned in the context of the CRC-Cohort are expected to greatly facilitate similar efforts in the future.
The ADOPT project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 676550.
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