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The NRP Biorepository is an invaluable resource for clinical research

The banking of human tissue – blood, solid tissue, and other samples – in a Biorepository (tissue bank) provides a rich source of material to drive research into normal human health and a wide range of diseases.

A Biorepository is as much about expertise, systems, and processes as it is about safe and secure sample storage in -80°C freezers. Indeed, not all samples are frozen, but they may be used in immediate experiments. From informed and ethical donor consent, through transport and archiving, to sample retrieval, robust protocols ensure research material of high quality (including anonymised donor information) is accessible across the NRP and beyond, including commercial organisations.

The NRP Biorepository, currently housed in the Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital (NNUH) Department of Cellular Pathology, will soon relocate to a purpose-built new facility in the Norwich Medical Research Building, which offers state-of-the-art freezer and retrieval systems in a location adjacent to NNUH and the research institutes of the NRP.

The Biorepository contains a large number of diseased and healthy tissue samples from various organs. The collections reflect the enthusiasms of various clinical teams (for example, urological specimens of all types – kidney, bladder, prostate, penis and testis – are particularly numerous) and previous research projects. However, it can assist in providing new types of sample for particular research needs. The Biorepository also supports so-called virtual banking, in which it provides mechanisms for ethical and approved donor consent and record-keeping, while the sample goes straight from donor to researcher without passing physically through the facility.

Staff at the Biorepository are happy to advise on organising the collection of samples in unusual circumstances, such as those from emergency, out-of-hours, surgery.

The Biorepository works within the terms of the Human Tissue Act 2004 (HTA) and had been inspected and approved by the Human Tissue Authority (licence number 11208). It also has appropriate NHS Research Ethics Committee approval. Its activities are overseen by a committee drawn from partner organisations and representing donors, which reports through the NNUH Research Governance Committee to the NNUH Trust Board.

There are opportunities to provide material for researchers in academic and other institutions locally, elsewhere in this country or abroad. If you would like to explore them, please contact us.