tion of the Tissue Repository in research and how would they potentially affect the mission of the JPC?
Several existing and emerging technologies in protein and gene-expression profiling and advances in DNA, elemental, and chemical studies—detailed in Chapter 2—hold the potential for making the JPC repository materials more useful by permitting specimens previously considered unusable to be analyzed or by allowing more information to be extracted from specimens.
For example, advances in proteomics allow the identification of proteolyzed protein fragments and their association with the protein from which they are derived. That allows one to circumvent, in part, any protein degradation that has occurred during specimen transport, handling, and fixation. In theory, posttranslational modifications of proteins can also be detected in the proteolyzed fragments, and this allows insight into cell signaling events. DNA analysis has become quicker, and the ability to detect pathogens responsible for past epidemics and disease clusters can be of value in understanding virulence in future outbreaks. Although mRNA is quite unstable unless specimens are handled very carefully, mRNA analyses can still be useful under some conditions. Small non-coding RNAs, such as micro RNA (miRNA), are very stable and are of increasing importance in certain scientific studies.
However, although the technical ability to extract and analyze biomolecules from archived specimens has improved and is likely to increase, the many unknown types and degrees of preanalytic variation to which the specimens have been subjected before stabilization will affect the validity of analytic results and may limit many types of research studies. This shortcoming is not limited to JPC materials but is endemic in older collections of biomaterials and collections that were assembled for purposes other than research (Carlson, 2010; Khleif et al., 2010). The committee is thus uncertain whether these research methods can successfully be applied broadly to the JPC repository collection and whether the collection will be the best source for investigators seeking to exploit the new technologies.
If the JPC is to fulfill its stated mission to provide “world class” research services, it will need to establish procedures that minimize the adverse consequences of inconsistent preanalytic handling of new specimens it acquires. The committee therefore recommends that the JPC adopt a set of best practices for the collection, processing, and storage of all incoming specimens, either by developing its own standards or by using one developed by another entity—for example, NCI’s Best Practices for Biospecimen Resources (NCI, 2011). The best practices should be posted on line, contributors should be encouraged to follow them, a means should be established for identifying specimens that have been handled in accordance with the best practices (check-off boxes on the Contributor’s Consultation