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Human brain samples preserved in plastic slides.
Maintaining and monitoring the multistep processes is a major challenge with biobanking.
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World’s First Brain Biobank Accelerates Clinical Research

The CNIO network aims to use patient-derived samples to drive ethical, efficient, and high-precision clinical care

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Swathi Kodaikal, MSc
Photo portrait of swathi kodaikal

Swathi Kodaikal, MSc, holds a master’s degree in biotechnology and has worked in places where actual science and research happen. Blending her love for writing with science, Swathi enjoys demystifying complex research findings for readers from all walks of life. On the days she doesn’t write, she learns and performs Kathak, sings, makes plans to travel, and obsesses over cleanliness.

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Published:Nov 08, 2023
|1 min read
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The Spanish National Network of Brain Metastasis (CNIO) built a network of 18 hospitals, a biobank, and a translational laboratory to solve critical, unmet clinical needs. Since its inception, the biobank—called Red Nacional de Metástasis Cerebral (RENACER)—has profiled “living” brain samples from more than 150 patients with brain metastasis, a disease that affects up to 30–40 percent of patients with systemic cancer.

Created by Manuel Valiente, PhD, head of the Brain Metastasis Group, and Eva Ortega-Paíno, PhD, director of the Biobank, RENACER collects, profiles, and translates brain samples right after surgery so the international scientific community can access patients’ genomic and associated clinical data. Moreover, the “archiving” process ensures the brain cells are conserved in their natural state as cultures and continue to emulate their in vivo behavior.

Transporting and storing brain samples

RENACER employs a sophisticated logistics chain to collect brain samples from the operating theater and transport them to the CNIO Biobank in Madrid in less than 24 hours. The brain samples are then processed: Organotypic cultures are created and stored for future investigations. After sequencing and molecular profiling, the data is collated into an open-access database.

“Research contracts have been already signed to exploit patient-derived organotypic cultures (PDOCs) as avatars, thus providing the possibility to generate biomarkers of sensitivity or resistance to specific drugs,” explain the authors in Trends in Cancer.

However, maintaining and monitoring the multistep processes is a major challenge with biobanking. RENACER recently included clinical data managers in the network to support the operations. 

“As a long-term effort, we plan to standardize the acquisition of neurocognitive evaluation of all patients that are included in RENACER through collaboration with experts in the field (neuropsychologists, neurologists, neuroscientists) that created the adequate tools to implement this important part of the clinical history,” write the authors.