The CCBR BioBank Initiative

Patient's samples are for translational research are analogous to gas for a car: the driving force! During my research career I have always been aware of the value of patient samples for research and the difficulty of obtaining these samples in a systematic and ethical manner. This was largely due to an ineffective and inconsistent process of BioBanking and not the lack of enthusiasm from patients to donate. Therefore, I started the CCBR BioBanking initiative which started storing the first patient samples in September 2011. This initiative has quickly taken root and other departments at C&W and CFRI have joined. It is our hope to establish institutional BioBanking mechanisms to develop a standardized and ethical method of consenting, processing samples and storing health information.

For more information about the BioBank initiative you can go to the following website: bcchr.ca/biobank

Minimal Residual Disease testing

Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) is the name given to small numbers of malignant cells that remain in the patient during or after treatment when the patient has no signs or symptoms of the disease. It is very important to see whether patients still have MRD as it may mean they need more or different treatments. Flow cytometry methods lookat markers on the cell surface of cells or inside the cell. Malignant cells often have a different expression pattern of markers comapred to normal cells and therefore using this method we can distinguish between normal and malignant cells in a large number of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

In our laboratory we routinely test all patients with ALL for MRD at day 8 in their blood and Day 29 in bone marrow by a method called flow cytometry. We are currently investigating new markers to detect MRD more specifically and in more patients with ALL. We are also working on a method to detect MRD in patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). In addition, we are doing research in collaboration with Dr. Strahlendorf and Dr. Tanya Brown to see whether we can detect minimal disease as well as MRD in the bone marrow of patients with a solid tumor called neuroblastoma.


The effect of oral iron with or without multiple micronutrients on hemoglobin concentration and hemoglobin response among nonpregnant Cambodian women of reproductive age: a 2 x 2 factorial, double-blind, randomized controlled supplementation trial.
Karakochuk CD, Barker MK, Whitfield KC, Barr SI, Vercauteren SM, Devlin AM, Hutcheon JA, Houghton LA, Prak S, Hou K, Chai TL, Stormer A, Ly S, Devenish R, Oberkanins C, Pühringer H, Harding KB, De-Regil LM, Kraemer K, Green TJ
DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.116.140996
PubMed: 28490515

Business Planning for a Campus-Wide Biobank.
Tarling TE, Lasser F, Carter C, Matzke LA, Dhugga G, Arora N, Dee S, LeBlanc J, Babinsky S, O'Donoghue S, Cheah S, Watson P, Vercauteren SM
DOI: 10.1089/bio.2016.0077
PubMed: 28151006

How Biobanks Are Assessing and Measuring Their Financial Sustainability.
Brown T, Kelly DD, Vercauteren SM, Wilson WH, Werner A
DOI: 10.1089/bio.2016.0086
PubMed: 27869475

von Willebrand disease type 2B.
McGinnis E, Vercauteren SM
DOI: 10.1182/blood-2016-09-729434
PubMed: 28126959

Comparison of four immunoassays to measure serum ferritin concentrations and iron deficiency prevalence among non-pregnant Cambodian women and Congolese children.
Karakochuk CD, Whitfield KC, Rappaport AI, Barr SI, Vercauteren SM, McLean J, Hou K, Talukder A, Houghton LA, Bailey KB, Boy E, Green TJ
DOI: 10.1515/cclm-2016-0421
PubMed: 27337742

von Willebrand disease type 2B.
McGinnis E, Vercauteren SM
DOI: 10.1182/blood-2016-08-729459
PubMed: 27932330

The significance of peripheral blood minimal residual disease to predict early disease response in patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Setiadi A, Owen D, Tsang A, Milner R, Vercauteren S
DOI: 10.1111/ijlh.12535
PubMed: 27339737

Opinions of Adolescents and Parents About Pediatric Biobanking.
Kong CC, Tarling TE, Strahlendorf C, Dittrick M, Vercauteren SM
DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.12.015
PubMed: 27013273

The Homozygous Hemoglobin EE Genotype and Chronic Inflammation Are Associated with High Serum Ferritin and Soluble Transferrin Receptor Concentrations among Women in Rural Cambodia.
Karakochuk CD, Whitfield KC, Rappaport AI, Barr SI, Vercauteren SM, McLean J, Prak S, Hou K, Talukder A, Devenish R, Green TJ
DOI: 10.3945/jn.115.218636
PubMed: 26491125

Elevated levels of iron in groundwater in Prey Veng province in Cambodia: a possible factor contributing to high iron stores in women.
Karakochuk CD, Murphy HM, Whitfield KC, Barr SI, Vercauteren SM, Talukder A, Porter K, Kroeun H, Eath M, McLean J, Green TJ
DOI: 10.2166/wh.2014.297
PubMed: 26042988

Evaluation of two methods to measure hemoglobin concentration among women with genetic hemoglobin disorders in Cambodia: a method-comparison study.
Karakochuk CD, Janmohamed A, Whitfield KC, Barr SI, Vercauteren SM, Kroeun H, Talukder A, McLean J, Green TJ
DOI: 10.1016/j.cca.2014.12.021
PubMed: 25542983

Genetic hemoglobin disorders rather than iron deficiency are a major predictor of hemoglobin concentration in women of reproductive age in rural prey Veng, Cambodia.
Karakochuk CD, Whitfield KC, Barr SI, Lamers Y, Devlin AM, Vercauteren SM, Kroeun H, Talukder A, McLean J, Green TJ
DOI: 10.3945/jn.114.198945
PubMed: 25527668

Funding sources for Canadian biorepositories: the role of user fees and strategies to help fill the gap.
Barnes RO, Schacter B, Kodeeswaran S, CTRNet Management Committee, Watson PH
DOI: 10.1089/bio.2014.0052
PubMed: 25314324

Nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma with classic Reed-Sternberg cells.
Li SJ, Vercauteren SM
DOI: 10.1182/blood-2014-04-571745
PubMed: 25259393

Policy recommendations for addressing privacy challenges associated with cell-based research and interventions.
Ogbogu U, Burningham S, Ollenberger A, Calder K, Du L, El Emam K, Hyde-Lay R, Isasi R, Joly Y, Kerr I, Malin B, McDonald M, Penney S, Piat G, Roy DC, Sugarman J, Vercauteren S, Verhenneman G, West L, Caulfield T
DOI: 10.1186/1472-6939-15-7
PubMed: 24485220

Permission to contact (PTC)--a strategy to enhance patient engagement in translational research.
Cheah S, O'Donoghue S, Daudt H, Dee S, LeBlanc J, Braun L, Barnes R, Vercauteren S, Boone RH, Watson PH
DOI: 10.1089/bio.2013.0023
PubMed: 24845592

Auer rods in mature granulocytes of a patient with mixed lineage leukemia.
Dmitrienko S, Vercauteren S
DOI: 10.1182/blood-2011-08-369835
PubMed: 22724140

T cells of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome are frequently derived from the malignant clone.
Vercauteren SM, Starczynowski DT, Sung S, McNeil K, Salski C, Jensen CL, Bruyere H, Lam WL, Karsan A
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2011.08872.x
PubMed: 25289412

Leukemic transformation of anaplastic large-cell lymphoma.
Vawda A, Davis J, Vercauteren S
DOI: 10.1182/blood-2010-11-318048
PubMed: 22073414

Copy number alterations at polymorphic loci may be acquired somatically in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes.
Starczynowski DT, Vercauteren S, Sung S, Brooks-Wilson A, Lam WL, Karsan A
DOI: 10.1016/j.leukres.2010.08.003
PubMed: 20801506

Array comparative genomic hybridization of peripheral blood granulocytes of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome detects karyotypic abnormalities.
Vercauteren SM, Sung S, Starczynowski DT, Lam WL, Bruyere H, Horsman DE, Tsang P, Leitch H, Karsan A
DOI: 10.1309/ajcph27zizejlorf
PubMed: 20551276

Reduction in multi-lineage and erythroid progenitors distinguishes myelodysplastic syndromes from non-malignant cytopenias.
Vercauteren SM, Bashashati A, Wu D, Brinkman RR, Eaves C, Eaves A, Karsan A
DOI: 10.1016/j.leukres.2009.03.019
PubMed: 19414193

High-resolution whole genome tiling path array CGH analysis of CD34+ cells from patients with low-risk myelodysplastic syndromes reveals cryptic copy number alterations and predicts overall and leukemia-free survival.
Starczynowski DT, Vercauteren S, Telenius A, Sung S, Tohyama K, Brooks-Wilson A, Spinelli JJ, Eaves CJ, Eaves AC, Horsman DE, Lam WL, Karsan A
DOI: 10.1182/blood-2007-11-122028
PubMed: 18663149

Improved survival in HIV-associated diffuse large B-cell lymphoma with the addition of rituximab to chemotherapy in patients receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy.
Ezzat H, Filipenko D, Vickars L, Galbraith P, Li C, Murphy K, Montaner JS, Harris M, Hogg RS, Vercauteren S, Leger CS, Zypchen L, Leitch HA
DOI: 10.1310/hct0803-132
PubMed: 17621460

Primitive AML progenitors from most CD34(+) patients lack CD33 expression but progenitors from many CD34(-) AML patients express CD33.
Vercauteren S, Zapf R, Sutherland H
DOI: 10.1080/14653240601164042
PubMed: 17453971

Constitutively active Notch4 promotes early human hematopoietic progenitor cell maintenance while inhibiting differentiation and causes lymphoid abnormalities in vivo.
Vercauteren SM, Sutherland HJ
DOI: 10.1182/blood-2004-01-0204
PubMed: 15231576

Telomerase is limiting the growth of acute myeloid leukemia cells.
Röth A, Vercauteren S, Sutherland HJ, Lansdorp PM
DOI: 10.1038/sj.leu.2403177
PubMed: 14562114

Detection and clinical significance of human acute myeloid leukaemia progenitors capable of long-term proliferation in vitro.
Sutherland H, Blair A, Vercauteren S, Zapf R
DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2141.2001.02927.x
PubMed: 11529847

CD133 (AC133) expression on AML cells and progenitors.
Vercauteren SM, Sutherland HJ
DOI: 10.1080/146532401317248054
PubMed: 11953029

Human B7-1 is more efficient than B7-2 in providing co-stimulation for alloantigen-specific T cells.
van Dijk AM, Otten HG, Vercauteren SM, Kessler FL, de Boer M, Verdonck LF, de Gast GC
DOI: 10.1002/eji.1830260946
PubMed: 8814278

Research Group Members

Thyrza May Toledo, Masters Student
Adam Velenosi, BioBank Research Coordinator
Michelle Dittrick, Clinical Research Program Manager
Heather Van Tassel
Rumbi Chiwaya, Research Technician
Jessica Tate, Undergraduate Student
David Yang
Nidhi Arora, Research Tech 4