The Importance of FFPE Tissue in Oncology Research

Cancer research turns on having biorepositories of high-quality well-annotated human tissue samples to facilitate study. Understanding the molecular basis of cancer cells and how diseased cells differ from normal cells depends crucially on these raw materials. Often there is not enough fresh tissue to facilitate the underlying protocols. In this case, many researchers turn to Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded tissues (FFPE blocks) as a source of the necessary materials. Vast libraries of annotated FFPE blocks serve as the basis for much oncology research today. They are an important source of human tissue and underlie much of the progress in contemporary cancer research. We highlight a number of research projects that depend on FFPE blocks for the study of various cancers.

Scientists at the Huntsman Cancer Institute are using FFPE blocks to stratify and classify different forms of breast cancer. Breast cancer is a unique disease in that there are many different tumor types that show varied progression profiles. Researchers are using real-time PCR to stratify breast cancer patients and match them successfully with different clinical behaviors. This gene expression analysis helps researchers assess recurrence risk and target different clinical interventions.

Translational Genomics Research Institute are providing computational tools to study the complicated behavior of cancer genomes. These scientists are using FFPE blocks of cancerous tissue to study how gene mutations and amplifications translate into effective biomarkers that may be used to improve and refine patient care.

Scientists studying gastric cancer have begun to focus on a critical biomarker miR-106a that is elevated during the progression of the disease. There are still open questions as to the significance of the biomarker in the development and progression of the disease. These researchers are using FFPE blocks of diseased tissue to develop biomarkers that are helpful in the diagnosis of gastric cancer.

Oncology research depends on a healthy supply of quality annotated specimens of both diseased and normal tissue. FFPE blocks of various tumor types facilitate progress in this important field. Tissue procurement from biorepositories allows researchers to make significant advances that underlie the diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of different cancer types. Well stocked biorepositories of FFPE blocks are an important supply of the tissues necessary for researchers to continue this important work.