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Research autopsy programmes in oncology: shared experience from 14 centres across the world

Geukens, Tatjana; Maetens, Marion; Hooper, Jody E; Oesterreich, Steffi; Lee, Adrian; Miller, Lori; Atkinson, Jenny M; ... Desmedt, Christine; + view all (2024) Research autopsy programmes in oncology: shared experience from 14 centres across the world. The Journal of Pathology 10.1002/path.6271. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

While there is a great clinical need to understand the biology of metastatic cancer in order to treat it more effectively, research is hampered by limited sample availability. Research autopsy programmes can crucially advance the field through synchronous, extensive, and high-volume sample collection. However, it remains an underused strategy in translational research. Via an extensive questionnaire, we collected information on the study design, enrolment strategy, study conduct, sample and data management, and challenges and opportunities of research autopsy programmes in oncology worldwide. Fourteen programmes participated in this study. Eight programmes operated 24 h/7 days, resulting in a lower median postmortem interval (time between death and start of the autopsy, 4 h) compared with those operating during working hours (9 h). Most programmes (n = 10) succeeded in collecting all samples within a median of 12 h after death. A large number of tumour sites were sampled during each autopsy (median 15.5 per patient). The median number of samples collected per patient was 58, including different processing methods for tumour samples but also non-tumour tissues and liquid biopsies. Unique biological insights derived from these samples included metastatic progression, treatment resistance, disease heterogeneity, tumour dormancy, interactions with the tumour micro-environment, and tumour representation in liquid biopsies. Tumour patient-derived xenograft (PDX) or organoid (PDO) models were additionally established, allowing for drug discovery and treatment sensitivity assays. Apart from the opportunities and achievements, we also present the challenges related with postmortem sample collections and strategies to overcome them, based on the shared experience of these 14 programmes. Through this work, we hope to increase the transparency of postmortem tissue donation, to encourage and aid the creation of new programmes, and to foster collaborations on these unique sample collections.

Type: Article
Title: Research autopsy programmes in oncology: shared experience from 14 centres across the world
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/path.6271
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/path.6271
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2024 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Keywords: Research autopsy; tissue donation; metastatic cancer; tumour model; liquid biopsy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Cancer Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Cancer Institute > Research Department of Oncology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10190326
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