Recent advances in genomics, proteomics, and increasing demands for biomarker validation studies have changed the landscape of cancer research. The establishment of tissue bank for translational research became very important. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the number one of the ten leading cancer death in Taiwan. Thus, the organization of Taiwan HCC research network was proposed in 2005.
The liver cancer research network (Taiwan Liver Cancer Network, TLCN) includes five major medical centers in northern, central, and southern parts of Taiwan (National Taiwan University Hospital, Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital-Linko, Veteran General Hospital-Taichung, Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital-Kaohsiung, Veteran General Hospital-Kaohsiung), so that we could recruit liver cancer patients with various socioeconomic, ethnical and life style backgrounds as well as regional representativeness. All participating centers will establish and follow a standard protocol to collect tumor tissues from patients with liver tumors, as well as their clinical, pathological and epidemiological information. A well-trained research assistant was provided and stationed at each collaborating hospital to help with all the collection procedures, which included informed consents, questionnaire, abstract of the medical records, tumor tissues, and blood samples. The resected HCC and non-tumor tissues and blood samples were frozen and stored in deep freezer at each collaborating hospital first and shipped to the central tissue bank at National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) monthly. There was a database core to be in charge of the data management. A User Committee composed of ten famous scientists in liver research was organized to review the applications for biosamples. This network started to collect biosamples since October, 2005. By July 30, 2011, we have successfully collected 5500 liver cancer patients with tumor tissue or blood samples and sufficient clinical and pathological information. Among them, 85% were HCC patients. Since 2007, this network has started to accept applications for biosamples, including DNA, RNA, paraffin sections, tissue array, tissue fragments for protein extraction, and associated clinical data, from individual investigators in Taiwan. So far, we already have 51 applications, and have sent out 15000 biosamples.
In conclusion, Taiwan Liver Cancer Network will be one of the largest and most well-organized HCC patient database and tissue network in the world.