Aim: To report on the development of a central resource of consented cancer tissues for researchers to use for ethically approved projects, and to describe the banking process.
Methods: The development of tissue banking in Christchurch, New Zealand is described, including the number and main types of samples collected. The consent forms have evolved with several new donor options added between 1996 and 2004. Since June 2004, disposal of tissues by a karakia (blessing) has been offered. Characteristics of each tissue including amount, location in the bank, and relevant clinicopathological data have been recorded prospectively in a detailed secure relational database.
Results: The changes in the consent form and donor options are described. Most donors (99.6%) consented to allow access to medical records (since May 2002); 98.3% to tissue being sent overseas (since May 2003), 97.4% to commercial research (since May 2003), and 35.6% requested disposal with a karakia. Since May 2003, 87% of donors have been Caucasian, 5.1% Maori, and the remainder composed of other categories as stated on the 2001 New Zealand census format. By March 2005, samples have been banked from more than 2000 donors. For each of the last 4 years, samples have been collected from more than 300 donors, including fresh-frozen tissue, DNA preparations, serum, plasma, and paraffin blocks. The predominant tissues are from donors with cancers of the breast, colon, urological, and gynaecological sites.
Conclusions: The Christchurch Tissue Bank is a successful model for potential New Zealand-wide application, providing quality tissue samples for cancer research whilst appropriately addressing ethical, legal, and cultural aspects of their collection.