Vancouver Island blood bank could yield cancer clues and save lives

Photograph by: DARREN STONE, Times Colonist

Thousands of blood samples divided among freezers at the Deeley Research Centre in Victoria may hold the secrets to saving cancer patients’ lives.

The biobank, which holds samples donated by cancer patients before they begin treatment, is the first of its kind in Canada, according to the B.C. Cancer Agency.

It’s important study material for researchers looking for the determinants of cancer, said medical oncologist Dr. Nicol Macpherson. It may also help answer why some patients experience radiation burns, nausea and infection during treatment, while others don’t.

“Why is this group of patients doing so poorly compared with that one? They’re all breast cancer, the tumours all look the same under the microscope, but this group has poorer outcomes and these others don’t,” Macpherson said.

The project — known as the Personal Response Determinants in Cancer Therapy, or Predict — launched in Victoria in 2006 with the help of a $100,000 gift from Sidney’s Frank and Betty Garnett, who have since donated an additional $100,000.

Amy Smart reports

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