Aims of the Project

The main objective of this project is to provide a research resource for both ongoing and future studies of the health consequences of the Chernobyl accident.

The project seeks to maximize the amount of information obtained from small pieces of tumor by providing multiple aliquots of RNA and DNA extracted from well documented pathological specimens to researchers world-wide and to conserve this valuable material for future generations of scientists. It exists to promote collaborative, rather than competitive, research on a limited biological resource.

The project:
  • ensures that the best possible diagnostic service is provided to patients and that appropriate ethical consent is obtained for each biological sample
  • ensures that specimens of thyroid cancer operated on or after 1st October 1998 (the start date of the project) are properly described and sampled, and that materials (frozen tissue, fixed tissue sections, extracted DNA/RNA and blood samples), are available for appropriate research studies
  • provides a diagnosis agreed by internationally recognized pathologists. The diagnosis is made available to research groups carrying out molecular biological, therapeutic, epidemiological and other studies
  • provides an archive of data generated from research studies carried out using the material that can be used for future studies. This may have direct relevance to both prognosis and assessment of health risks from exposure to radiation.

Thyroid cancer is increasing world-wide and although most tumors do not have a defined radiation etiology, it is likely that the insights gained from studying the post Chernobyl tumors will provide information that could be of use for the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid cancer and of other cancers in general.

What happens to the results of the research studies? 
Researchers who obtain material from the CTB agree to provide the results of their investigation on a case-by-case basis. This information will not be used until after the researchers have published their findings, but it will allow the results of all of the studies to be combined to address novel research questions in the future. The provision of extracted nucleic acid from thyroid tissue, rather than each researcher being provided with a small piece of tissue maximizes the amount of data that can potentially be obtained from a single operative specimen and will enable multiple molecular biological studies to be carried out for each case.

The CTB biosample search facility allows researchers wishing to access biomaterials to select those cases from which they would wish to receive samples. This search facility includes information on the specimen type, patient characteristics, tumor characteristics, and, for certain tumor specimens, the driver mutation(s) identified to date.

Where is the CTB located?
The tissue bank is situated at the Institute of Endocrinology and Metabolism in Kiev, Ukraine. The bank consents patients, prepares and stores material from its own population. Historically, a separate bank was maintained in Russia. Contributing banks maintain their own databases of samples and data that are shared into an integrated database maintained at the coordinating center, allowing key information available to researchers wishing to use the tissue banks as well as each institute retaining access to the complete data from its own population at any time.

Study cohort
The CTB currently includes material and information from all patients with thyroid carcinomas and cellular follicular adenomas from the contaminated oblasts of Ukraine (Kiev, Kiev city, Cherkasse, Chernigov, Rovno, Zhitomyr and Sumy) who were born after 26th April 1967 (i.e. aged under 19 at the time of the Chernobyl accident) and operated on or after the 1st October 1998. Detailed standard operating procedures for the collection and documentation of specimens and blood samples have been agreed with professional staff involved in the collection of material, and ethical standards agreed upon with the relevant authorities, conforming to the requirements of each country involved, including those of the funding organizations.

Each specimen is given a unique identifier authorized by the appropriate person responsible for the management of the resource. The age, sex, age at operation, oblast, and a measured or calculated dose received are recorded for each specimen stored in the CTB, and are made available to researchers with approved projects receiving material from the bank. All data accessible by researchers are anonymized. Each anonymized specimen is assigned a tissue bank reference number by the institute in Ukraine and all data accessible by researchers are identified by this reference number.