Over 600 anonymous samples of biological specimens removed from Mesothelioma patients are now available in a virtual format via the Internet, from the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank (NMVB). This will provide an invaluable database for researchers studying human mesothelioma. The samples are only released once identifying information has been removed in order to preserve the anonymity of the patients. Stringent security protocols prevent the information from being accessed by unauthorized parties. The technology upon which this system is based, the caTissue Clinical Annotation Engine (CAE), was developed through the combined efforts of the University of Pittsburgh and the Cancer Biomedical Informatics GridTM (caBIGTM).
Each tissue sample is annotated with clinical and epidemiologic data concerning the patient’s disease, and the system has data query tools to allow researchers to search for specific data elements. Records are available in real-time, and security systems limit the types of data which researchers can access, depending on the level of authorization they have been granted. Users of the site include clinical researchers and researchers doing fundamental work on mesothelioma. Their efforts to learn more about human mesothelioma, and to search for possible preventive measures and even cures, will be aided by having this information at their fingertips.