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POITIERS HOSPITAL 2005, April 15
 
A tumorotheque, what is the purpose it serves?
 

 
The Poitiers CHU stores in a cool place over 1000 tumor samples removed from patients. As head of the pathological anatomy and cytology ward, Pierre Levillain allowed us to enter the tumorotheque.

We are visiting an ordinary room at the second basement level of Poitiers Hospital. Two vertical freezers occupy the brunt of the space. One of them is empty, while the other contains a thousand tumors. Behind the banality of the appearances, we are in fact at the heart of the medical establishment’s tumorotheque. It is closely guarded. Two alarms are linked up with the hospital’s security system; if the temperature climbs abnormally, agents are called upon to intervene. Preserved at –80 degrees, the samples are in “danger” at around –60. If nobody restores the right temperature within a reasonable lapse of time (a few dozen minutes), bottles of carbonic acid may come to the rescue.

But what is the precious cargo in the freezers that necessitates such quickly materializing mobilization? Tissue samples of tumors, to be sure, yet there is more to it than that. “Quite often, with patient consent, we likewise freeze healthy tissues, which may be of significance when compared with tumors”, adds Professor Levillain, who is the head of the pathological anatomy and cytology ward. A veritable “collection of frozen tumors” is now considered indispensable, to say the least… Freezing differs from other means of preservation insofar as it may keep intact the properties of the tissues, most notably proteins and nucleic acids.

“Refined diagnoses”


“We have been freezing tissues for quite a while. The one difference today is that the freezing of fragments is systematic”, adds Professor Levillain. Such automaticity allows not only for “refined diagnoses” and the treatments best adapted to patients, but also facilitates molecular biology studies on these samples, with diagnostic and therapeutic research posited as a goal. The interest of the Poitiers Hospital tumorotheque has consequently grown obvious in the eyes of doctors, surgeons and other researchers, and more particularly in the framework of its having been given a brand name in July 2004 by the management of hospitalization and organization of medical care (the French DHOS).

Having achieved this milestone, the Poitiers hospital center has reinforced its credibility in the overall scope of the Canceropole Grand-Ouest and thereby paved the way for full-scale collaboration with its analogous neighbors in Rennes, Nantes, Angers, Tours, Brest and Le Mans. The head of the pathological anatomy and cytology ward herein concludes: “We already belong to the tumorotheque network of the Grand-Ouest. Two software information specialists are working now in Rennes and shall soon be in Poitiers so as set up a virtual tumorotheque, that is to say a veritable anonymous data bank to be consulted by cancerology research teams subsequent to the agreement of the medico-scientific committee striving to ensure full respect of the rules of bio-ethics”.


http://www.chu-poitiers.fr
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