Translational research forms an integral part of BIG trials and research programmes.
It provides the link between discoveries made in the laboratory (basic science research) and their application for the benefit of patients (clinical research). It functions as a bridge between these two worlds, but is dynamic in both directions, based on two principles often referred to as “bench to bedside” and “bedside to bench”.
Breast cancer consists of various subtypes. Understanding the genetic abnormalities and biological mechanisms driving these different subtypes can help us to develop more effective and targeted treatments for each individual patient.
Conversely, sometimes physicians notice that a specific drug only benefits some patients within a clinical trial. Translational studies can help find out why.
Translational research is conducted using biological samples (such as tumour tissue or blood) collected in the context of BIG trials from patients who have consented to their use, either for specific projects, or for yet undefined future research. The biological samples collected are maintained in qualified biorepositories, which in general are independent from the partners involved in running a particular clinical trial. At a specific point in time, these samples – as well as clinical and other data collected during the course of a trial – are made available to scientists from around the world, both from within and outside of the BIG network.
It is essential that biomaterials collected for translational research purposes are of the highest quality. To this end, BIG, with support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) / University of Michigan, prepared a video and support materials translated into multiple languages that cover the basics of appropriate tumour tissue sampling, preservation, packaging and labelling.
The BIG Biomaterials Inventory was created with support from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) / University of Michigan and aims to provide a detailed summary of which materials have been collected for translational research purposes in the context of BIG clinical trials. The inventory therefore serves as a resource for researchers who may wish to access such samples. Details about the relevant contact information and procedures are indicated for each trial.
Research project proposals
All translational research project proposals are carefully reviewed and prioritised by qualified experts and are approved by the steering committees of the respective trials. This process ensures the best use of precious biological materials and gives the best hope for rapid discoveries that can lead to better treatments for individual patients.