Inside the world’s largest hereditary cancer biobank
The International Hereditary Cancer Center (IHCC) in Poland is the world’s largest hereditary cancer biobank. It comprises of data from more than one million people (patients and their family members) and DNA samples from 120,000 individuals Professor Jan Lubinski, Head of the IHCC, explains the critical work of the Center and the role of Panasonic’s TwinGuard ultra low temperature (ULT) freezers with Dual Cooling technology, in supporting it.
The early detection of cancer and its subsequent prevention are becoming an increasingly important goal in public healthcare worldwide. Many forms of cancer have genetically inherited origins. Scientists have discovered a number of genetic mutations that can contribute to an individual’s risk of developing certain cancers, such as breast, ovarian, colorectal, and prostate cancers, as well as some other, less common cancer types. Although, people who carry such hereditary mutations do not necessarily get cancer, their risk of developing the disease at some point during their lifetime is higher than average. Genetic research can identify individuals with a predisposition to these cancers, enabling preventative treatment and increased survival rates. In addition, this approach to cancer is also more cost-effective than later-stage treatment.
World class research
The IHCC is a global leader in the field of hereditary cancer. Affiliated to the Department of Genetics and Pathology at the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Poland, it was established almost 25 years ago by Professor Lubinski in the early days of genetic research into hereditary cancer. It has evolved into a major specialist centre of excellence that contributes to advancing global knowledge on this important area of medicine. Its significance is in part due to the suitability of Poland’s demographics as a patient study cohort.
“Cancer-related genetic research seeks to identify patterns that indicate abnormal mutations. In order to facilitate this, it is important to develop large databases and registries of homogenous populations,” said Professor Lubinski. “Poland has a very homogenous population – while immigration from the country is significant, the number of non-native people entering the land is limited. Therefore, it is an excellent place for the study of genetics within populations.”
A pioneer in advanced research into heredity cancer
Professor Lubinski, Head of the IHCC and the Department of Genetics and Pathology at the Pomeranian Medical University, is the driving force behind the development of the facility. As one of the world’s leading experts in hereditary cancer, Professor Lubinski, has studied and worked as a geneticist specialized in oncology in many countries, including Poland, France, Latvia and the USA. He is a leading figure in both European Union and global initiatives on hereditary cancer. Over the course of the last 10 years, his studies have led to publication of more than 300 scientific papers focused on hereditary cancer in leading international medical journals. Affiliated to many professional societies worldwide, he has also served as a Board or Council Member of several of them. He has received many national and international awards for achievements in science, education and organizational activities. He also regularly presents at specialist meetings and conferences across the world and is editor for a number of leading global publications on hereditary cancer. As a true pioneer, Professor Lubinski also founded his own company – Read Gene – in 2005 that is specialized in developing new diagnostic innovations in cancer-related genetic analysis and oncology tools. He has co-authored 12 successful international patent applications and 22 successful Polish patent applications for new tests and techniques in genetic research.
Equipped for large scale specialist research
As a key global resource in the fight against cancer, guaranteed sample security and optimal efficiency are the top priorities in ensuring viability of the vast biobank. The large number of samples involved the IHCC’s research must be collected carefully and correctly and preserved under precise conditions until research is complete. “With around 200 patient-consults every day, the IHCC needs the most efficient and reliable techniques and equipment possible for collection and storage of an exceptionally large number of samples of biological materials,” said Professor Lubinski. Additional funding that was secured from EU resources nearly a decade ago enabled the IHCC to extend its activities further. With this opportunity, it invested in expanding its laboratory facilities significantly. Professor Lubinski and his team opted for Panasonic equipment.
“We were looking for the right equipment and contacted Sanlab, Panasonic’s official distributor in Poland,” said Professor Lubinski. “Panasonic Biomedical products offer perfect biosample storage. We chose Panasonic equipment on the basis of the outstanding reliability, precision, quality and efficiency, as well as the excellent value of the Panasonic TwinGuard -86C freezers, and we haven’t been disappointed. We now also have other equipment from Panasonic, including the -150°C cryogenic freezers. I have only heard positive comments from my team on the products.” The IHCC is now one of Sanlab’s largest customers. They have continued to invest in new equipment from Panasonic as the Center has expanded.