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About CellBank

What is CellBank?

CellBank is funded by the charity Blood Cancer UK.  It is a national collection of blood and bone marrow samples from children and young people with leukaemia and other, similar disorders.  Samples from CellBank can be used by UK-based scientists in research projects to find new ways to diagnose, treat and prevent these disorders.

CellBank includes samples from children and young people with aplastic anaemia and other bone marrow failure disorders.

Cellbank is now merging with the CCLG Tissue Bank, to include biological samples from children with solid tumours. Together we are creating the UK's leading resource dedicated to storing samples and data of cancers affecting children and young people, called VIVO Biobank.

How does it work?

With permission from patients or parents, clinical teams take small samples of bone marrow, blood and sometimes other tissues, such as spinal fluid, to be stored by CellBank for use in research.  These samples are taken at the same time as those taken to make a diagnosis or to help guide treatment decisions, or can be leftover tissue after testing.  We don’t need much – around a teaspoon of blood or bone marrow or just a few drops of spinal fluid. 

We work closely with clinical teams in hospitals around the UK so that children and young people having diagnostic tests done are invited to donate samples to CellBank.

Once we have permission and samples have been taken, these are sent to our storage facility at UK Biocentre where they are frozen until they are needed for a research project.

How much of each sample does CellBank need diagram


How can researchers use CellBank samples?

First of all, research teams need to find funding and ethical approval for the project they want to carry out.  Once they have these, they can apply to CellBank to request samples. 

Next, a panel of experts (called the CellBank Application Review Panel) review each application and also check that we have all of the samples that the researchers need. 

Once a project is approved, CellBank contact the researchers to tell them that we have granted them permission to use the requested samples.  UK Biocentre then prepare the samples for transport and send them to the research team.  Researchers don’t have to pay us to use samples – they just need to cover the costs of the transport.

How a researcher uses CellBank samples diagram