Breast Cancer Tissue Bank in the UK and Ireland | Breast Cancer Campaign

Tissue Bank: Unlock the Cure

The Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank is the UK’s largest unique collection of high-quality breast tissue, breast cells and blood samples from breast cancer patients. It’s these samples that are giving scientists the chance to get as close to the disease as possible – so they can find the cures for breast cancer.

As well as access to tissue, scientists can request anonymised data linked to the sample, including if the donor’s breast cancer has progressed and the treatments they’ve received. The Tissue Bank also provides open access to a wealth of data on breast cancer research, through our bioinformatics platform, helping scientists across the globe to get the most out of their research.

Tissue Bank facts

Established: 2010

No. of samples: 30,000

Tissue Bank centres:

Why do we need the Tissue Bank?

When the world’s leading scientists told us that the biggest barrier to finding the cures for breast cancer was a lack of access to high-quality tissue, we were determined to do something about it.

Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK. This year alone, 50,000 people will find out they have it and 12,000 people will die from it. By collecting and storing breast cancer samples consistently, and giving scientists access to the tissue they need, we can make results more reliable and bring greater benefits to people, faster.

How do I donate my breast tissue?

Donating tissue and blood to the Tissue Bank is voluntary. And we are very grateful to everyone who gives their permission for us to keep a small amount of their tissue that is not needed to help with their care. If you are having breast surgery in one of our Tissue Bank centres (see fact file for locations), a nurse or a patient volunteer may ask if you are willing to donate any tissue, and answer any questions you may have.

Giving consent to donate your tissue, or withholding your consent, will not affect your care or treatment in any way, and your details will remain strictly confidential.

We can’t accept donations of tissue to the Tissue Bank if you are not being treated at a Tissue Bank Centre. But if you are interested in participating in research, please ask your nurse as you may be able to participate in another study.

Great results

The Tissue Bank has already given scientists in the UK and Ireland access to more than 3,500 samples. There are another 3,000 samples being prepared right now for cutting-edge research.

Breast Cancer Campaign has committed a further £2 million per year to the Tissue Bank over the next three and a half years. As well as the usual banking activities, Leeds, Nottingham and Barts will also take on at least one specialised activity to support the Bank. 

There is currently no cure for metastatic breast cancer, which is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. The Tissue Bank is setting up a Metastasis Tissue Bank at Barts, to increase researcher access to good-quality metastatic tissue.  Leeds will provide a core service for creating and storing digital images of all samples collected for the Tissue Bank. The centre will also store images generated by researchers using tissue from the Bank.

Nottingham will host rare collections of tissue, including samples of ductal carcinoma in-situ (DCIS) tissue and inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) tissue.

All of these vital activities are being carried out to give researchers access to good-quality samples and data to help drive research further and faster.

Support

The Tissue Bank receives huge support from Asda and Walk the Walk. 

  • £5 million has been contributed by ASDA’s Tickled Pink campaign over the last five years, thanks to the support of their colleagues and customers.
  • £4 million has been received from Walk the Walk, the grant-making charity which raises money through Power Walking challenges, including The MoonWalk London.

Unlock the Cure

We need to raise £2 million every year to run the Tissue Bank – and give scientists access to the tissue they need for their ground-breaking research. The Unlock the Cure Appeal Board was setup to help raise these vital funds, and we are delighted to have their support. 

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