INDIANAPOLIS — A unique breast cancer research team in Indianapolis needs your help.
The Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only tissue bank in the world to collect healthy breast tissue for cancer research.
"This is a one-of-a-kind resource," said Dr. Michele Cote, director of the Komen Tissue Bank. "There is no other healthy, normal tissue available for investigators across the world to do the sorts of research they want to do."
In the past 15 years, Cote said the bank has collected more than 5,000 healthy breast tissue samples from volunteers across the country — and many of those donors are Hoosiers.
As for the samples, Cote explained that they are being used in more than 200 different research projects around the world, in hopes of answering tough questions regarding breast cancer.
"How do we better prevent breast cancer?" Cote asked. "How do we better personalize treatment for a person once they've developed breast cancer?"
Before healthy tissue was available for research, Cote said investigators would use tissue samples adjacent to breast cancer tissue.
At that point, however, there are already changes in that "healthy" tissue, according to Cote.
"This normal tissue really allows us to look at what is truly cancer versus what is not," Cote said.
The Komen Tissue Bank is hosting an upcoming donor event on Saturday, Nov. 12.
"They just put a tiny nick in the skin," Cote said. "They insert a needle, and there's a vacuum-assisted process that makes it go very quickly. Not even a stitch is needed afterwards."
Cote described the tissue donation as "pea-sized."
Anyone interested in donating can sign up now. Donors need to be at least 18 years old.
"We work to be really representative of the entire population of the United States," Cote said, "and in particular, we are looking for people who have traditionally been underrepresented in research: African-American women, Hispanic women, Asian-American populations. We try to get tissue from everybody."