Molecular Pathology and Biobanking
Professor Manuel Salto-Tellez and Dr Jackie James, Lead Investigators
The Northern Ireland Molecular Pathology Laboratory (NI-MPL) was officially opened by the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Edwin Poots MLA, on 9 January 2013 (click here to view the new facility). The refurbished laboratory has provided a self-contained, purpose-designed, internationally accreditable hybrid operation capable of performing molecular pathology translational research and molecular diagnostics of solid tumours. The molecular pathology diagnostic unit is a partnership between CCRCB and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT).
The technologies available in the NI-MPL are tissue and nucleic acid based, and include: tissue processing and embedding, conventional HE, manual and automated immunohistochemistry, various automated in-situ hybridization techniques, tissue microarrays, gel and capillary electrophoresis, Q-PCR, Next Generation Sequencing, laser capture microdissection and tissue bioimaging. The laboratory environment ensures the proper SoPs, procedure manuals and QA/QC schemes to exercise its hybrid role. This laboratory is able to provide research support to basic scientists willing to understand the clinical relevance of their research findings, academic oncologists willing to have biomarker analysis or validation in the context of clinical trials, and all those in need of high-quality, affordable molecular diagnostic testing in oncology.
Molecular Pathology research in Belfast involves academics at QUB and clinicians within the BHSCT Tissue Pathology laboratories and is underpinned by the new Northern Ireland Biobank (NIB). The NIB is funded by the Health and Social Care (HSC) Research and Development (R&D) Division of the Public Health Agency of the Northern Ireland and a local charity, the Friends of the Cancer Centre; it is also supported through the CR-UK Centre grant. The NIB enhances translational cancer research associated with our phase I-III trials through the collection of tissues and blood samples linked to reliable clinical and pathological data sets. The Belfast ECMC previously had project-based but no systematic tumour tissue collection capabilities. The NIB complements current activities by establishing a unique targeted collection of tissues and bodily fluids, including normal and tumour tissues, for translational studies. The NIB has developed a secure, independent sophisticated information management system based on CaTISSUE suite from NCI/NIH, but modified to include the integration of whole slide imaging and tissue microarray management. There is a close working relationship between the NIB and the NI Cancer Registry to ensure all samples processed for the bank are linked with robust de-identified clinical and pathological information collected from state of the art data repositories.