How samples are helping medical research

How samples are helping medical research

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Growing the Wesley Medical Research Biobank

What is a biobank? Biobank frozen tissue samples in vials.

The Wesley Medical Research Biobank samples are playing a significant role in breakthroughs for cancer, autism, and rare genetic diseases.

Founded in 2007, this open-sourced and purpose-built facility provides a diverse collection of ethically obtained blood and tissue specimen samples for biomedical research. Uniquely, it is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere and provides researchers access to human specimens which are used to identify improvements in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases.

Holding more than 40,000 samples, this highly specialised facility offers long-term protection and storage for samples including the Queensland Brain Tumour Bank, the Australian Autism Biobank, and the Justin Cameron Sarcoma Collection.

The Biobank is a collection of biological samples, stored in a laboratory. Researchers can use these samples to learn more about diseases and trial new drugs and treatments. Samples stored in the Biobank have been collected from people all over Queensland and are then distributed to medical researchers who investigate better ways to diagnose, prevent, and treat cancer and other conditions.

For example, samples from the Australian Autism Biobank stored at the Wesley Medical Research Biobank have been used to analyse Autism Spectrum Disorder, a complex neurodevelopmental condition whose biological basis is yet to be discovered.

Using biobank samples, researchers Professor Naomi Wray and Dr Jake Gratten recently showed that autism traits lead to restricted dietary intake, resulting in reduced microbiome (gut health) diversity. These results are based on information from 2,477 individuals with DNA data from 546 families.

Wesley Medical Research would like to acknowledge the Catalano Family Foundation for their generous gift to support the Biobank. Sam Catalano, the founder of Catalano Family Foundation, established the Foundation in memory of his wife and daughter who have both passed away due to illness.

Read more stories and updates in IMPACT magazine’s Spring 2021 Issue #67.

Hands with surgical gloves on, handing biobank tissue slides.

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