Tissue Processing

Tissue samples, also called biospecimens, are tissue and fluid samples taken from the human body that can be used for research. Biospecimens from cancer patients are critical to cancer research because they contain an extraordinary amount of biological information, written in the language of cells. Genes and proteins in biospecimens can identify the biological characteristics of cancer cells.  Biospecimens used for genomic research must meet a stringent set of criteria so that DNA and RNA removed from the tissue can be used by advanced genomic analysis and sequencing technologies.

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) collaborates with Tissue Source Sites (TSSs) around the globe to provide samples to TCGA.  The samples are carefully reviewed and sent to core laboratories, called Biospecimen Core Resources (BCRs).  The BCRs review and process blood and tissue samples and their associated data using optimized standard operating procedures.

The work of the BCRs include the following important functions:

  • Serving  to connect the TCGA program and the TSSs collecting tumor and matched normal controls
  • Ensuring and verifying that TCGA human subjects protections, regulations and guidelines are followed at each TSS
  • Including use of language consistent with the TCGA informed consent documents
  • Examining all biospecimens to ensure they meet or exceed the standards for each tumor type (including percent necrosis and percent tumor nuclei)
  • Reviewing of pathology to ensure accurate diagnosis and inclusion in TCGA
  • Collecting clinical information for each tissue and applying standardized terminology, definitions and formats that are compliant with caBIG (National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid®)
  • Extracting and distributing DNA and RNA from tissue samples to each of the genomic characterization and sequencing centers