Biobank broadens research opportunities

Biobank broadens research opportunities

Illuminate newsletter header, Autumn 2021
March 2021
WEHI researchers are at the helm of a new initiative to establish a ‘biobank’ that will facilitate translational research into immune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Professor Ian Wicks
Professor Ian Wicks says the biobank will be a leap forward
for the medical research sector and for patients

The Victorian Immune Diseases BioBank (VIDBioB) will provide a repository of patient blood and tissue samples that can be accessed for the purpose of translational research.

The project is led by WEHI Professor Ian Wicks, in collaboration with dermatologist Johannes Kern, gastroenterologist Britt Christensen, immunologist Charlotte Slade and renal transplant physician Peter Hughes from The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH).

Professor Wicks said it would be a leap forward for the medical research sector and for patients.

“We believe this will prove to be an incredibly valuable tool clinically and will help us develop new targeted therapies,” he said.

“It will allow researchers to validate pathways and biomarkers prior to launching clinical trials.”

He said the VIDBioB would improve our understanding of inflammatory and chronic diseases.

“There is great value in being able to assess cohorts of well characterised patients over time and to compare and contrast different inflammatory and immune diseases, and the responses to different therapeutic interventions.”

A valuable collaboration between research and frontline healthcare

The project will merge advanced technologies at WEHI with frontline clinical work, improving patient diagnostics and treatment, while also advancing research endeavours.

“It means tissue samples routinely collected from patients as part of usual care can be used in medical research,” Professor Wicks said.

“A recurring obstacle for researchers is finding out whether certain molecules and pathways displayed in experimental models of disease are actually expressed in diseased human tissue. This can be a bottleneck for translational research. With the creation of the biobank, we hope there will be a bank of tissue samples ready to draw from, so researchers can expedite their research.”

Professor Wicks said he and his colleagues hoped the VIDBioB would be a major resource for translational research in the Parkville precinct.

“It will enable researchers to combine a host of innovative technologies including genomics, imaging, bioinformatics and machine learning, with integrated clinical data collected from the new electronic medical record at RMH.”

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