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The Primary Airway Cell Biobank (PACB), the first of its kind in Canada, was established through a collaboration between Cystic Fibrosis Canada and the CF Translational Research Centre (CFTRc) at McGill University in Montreal. Launched in 2009 by Dr. John Hanrahan, Principal Investigator, and Dr. Renaud Robert, Director, the biobank is intended today to be a nationwide resource of high-quality lung cells for Canadian CF researchers.
Lung cells are essential to basic and translational research in the CF field. Before an investigational new therapy is approved for use in clinical trials, its effectiveness must be demonstrated within cells at the lab bench. Cells isolated directly from CF lungs are especially valuable because they behave similarly to cells situated within the airways of patients and are, therefore, considered the ‘gold standard’ for CF research. In most cases, however, it is not feasible to prepare these cells in the lab as the isolation process can be costly, time-consuming, and requires skilled personnel. A centralized program operated by an experienced facility is cost-effective and ensures a reliable supply of high-quality research materials.
The biobank relies on a strong trans-Canada network involving CF clinicians, surgeons and their institutions that work together with the CFTRc to coordinate tissue procurement. Importantly, patient identity is kept strictly confidential by the transplant clinic and the process does not require any additional procedures by the patient beyond those already necessary for their treatment. Following informed consent, CF lung tissue is obtained from the transplant recipient and provided by the transplant centre to the CFTRc. Cells are then prepared by trained personnel using standardized techniques and quality control measures.
As a not-for-profit program, the PACB makes the cells available at cost to CF researchers across the country. These cells serve as an invaluable tool to enhance the current understanding of CF and in translational research efforts that aim to develop new therapeutic agents to fight the disease. For more information or to order cells, please visit the PACB website.
Acknowledgment: The PACB thanks the Biobank of Respiratory Tissues of CRCHUM and IRCM of the Respiratory Health Network of FRQS for providing lung tissue.