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Many of our trials give patients the opportunity to donate their biospecimens, including blood, urine and (if related to cancer) tumour tissue samples, for translational research. These biospecimens are used in translational research (TR) studies to seek biomarkers. Biomarkers are biological flags that may help to select people most likely to benefit from a treatment, forecast future health status and survival or to spare particular patients from potential treatment side-effects.
The biomarkers can also be used as a tool in precision medicine - to select the right treatment, delivered at the right time for the individual patient. Some trials require patients to undergo specialised biochemical or molecular testing of their biospecimen for a specific biomarker or groups called ‘signatures’ - this is part of their screening to enter a trial.
In other trials patients donate biospecimens for TR studies that might answer a specific scientific question or generate information to test in larger trials. Cutting-edge techniques referred to as ‘Omics’ may be used to study large numbers of genes (genomics), proteins (proteomics), blood fats (lipidomics) and mRNA (transcriptomics) in these biospecimens.
This type of research is very time and cost effective and greatly complements and extends the value of the original trial.