The National Tumor & DNT Bank in Brazil (BNT) is the first public bank of this type that is nation-wide in scope. It arose based on an initiative of INCA’s Research Coordinating Office that was aimed at setting up the first Brazilian network for collecting and transferring to the Institute’s Research Center samples of tumors and blood from patients with the most common tumors in the country – based on their frequency and death rates – for definition of their genetic profiles.
Construction of the BNT was managed by the Cancer Foundation and its infrastructure was developed in 2004 with funding provided by the Brazilian Government’s Finance Agency for Studies & Projects (Finep) and the Swiss Bridge Foundation, which is a non-profit entity based in that European nation. A bio-data-processing platform was specially created to organize and store BNT data that began functioning in 2005.
Centralization of data allows research studying the behavior of tumors based on the genetic standard of the Brazilian population and defines diagnoses and treatments with greater speed and safety. The current storage capacity of BNT is roughly 88 thousand samples, which are donated by patients undergoing surgical procedures in all the medical-surgical services of INCA’s hospitals.
More than 25 projects approved by INCA’s Ethical Research Committee(CEP) were carried out with biological samples taken from patients registered at the institution, thus leading to technical-scientific collaborations with Brazilian and international research groups. The results achieved with these research projects may make a marked contribution to actions for cancer prevention and treatment, through enhancement of technologies oriented to diagnosis of the disease and identification of molecular markers that can serve as “targets” for specific therapeutic activities in various types of cancer.
The challenge now is expanding the collection of samples with implementation of the Brazilian Bio-Bank Network, a technical-scientific cooperation exercise with cancer assistance and research institutions associated with the BNT, located in other regions of the country.
Another initiative led by the BNT was creation of the Network of Tumor Banks of the Latin American & Caribbean Alliance, the main objective of which is establishing actions aimed at setting standards for bio-bank processes – standard operating procedures, analysis of costs of biological samples, etc. – in governmental oncologic attention institutions. So far, the following countries participate in this network: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Uruguay.