Biospecimens allow researchers to study the molecular characteristics of cancer in the context of disease development and progression. The quality and reproducibility of data resulting from this research depends greatly on biospecimen quality and comparability.

Pre-analytical Variables

Biospecimens are far from being inert. They consist or are products of living cells, which remain active and reactive. During the 'biospecimen life-cycle', biospecimens are subjected to environmental changes and biological stresses, which can cause biospecimens to react adaptively and may profoundly change its molecular composition or profile. Although these changes may be artificial, they risk being misinterpreted as disease-related or even disease-specific.

biospecimen lifecycle
Moore, HM. The NCI Biospecimen Research Network. Biotech Histochem. 2012 Jan;87(1):18-23.

There is a considerable lack of scientific data assessing the effects of pre-analytic variables on molecular testing of human biospecimens. New research in biospecimen science will define the precise relationships between biospecimen handling and the quality and reproducibility of data for cancer research.

PCBN conducts and supports biospecimen science to evaluate the influence of pre-analytical variation on biomarker assay results, and characterize critical parameters in the biospecimen "life cycle" that influence the molecular integrity of research tissues. A variety of efforts are under way to establish scientific evidence-based practices to improve the overall quality of biospecimens for research.

For further information about PCBN biospecimen science efforts, please email us .