Melanoma Institute Australia’s research strength is founded on three resources that facilitate an array of research projects. They are the Melanoma Research Database, the BioSpecimen Bank, and Clinical Trials.
Melanoma Research Database (MRD2)
In 1968 Professor Gerry Milton of the Sydney Melanoma Unit (SMU) was trying to better understand the disease. He recruited Dr Helen Shaw to collect all the records of melanoma patients treated at Sydney Hospital since 1957 and put them together in an organised way. The benefits were clear immediately and the SMU committed to maintaining Dr Shaw’s system and continue keeping their patients record.
Always forward thinking, the Unit (now known as MIA) soon decided to embrace the “high technology” of the day and converted the entire catalogue over to punchcards and a database was born. Over the years the database has gone through big technologic leaps while always maintaining the collection of new patient records.
The Melanoma Research Database recently made another big leap forward. It was updated to accommodate the cataloging of data related to new targeted therapy discoveries and brought about new efficiency to the collection of investigation of data.
Now known as the MRD2, it has become the biggest database of its kind the world, with over 41,000 records and several staff members, including IT specialists and clinical data managers, dedicated to its refinement, preservation and cultivation.
The MRD2 is a resource used to identify and extract specific sub-sets of information for research projects related to diagnosis, prognosis and treatment outcomes in melanoma patients. It enables us to cross-examine information and extract more complex data than ever before. The knowledge gained from these studies assists in the management of melanoma patients around the world.
All patient information at MIA is treated confidentially. Data is entered into the MRD2 after a patient has provided consent, and only de-identified information is used in our research. We are grateful to all of our patients who have contributed to this invaluable resource.
The MIA Biospecimen Bank takes our research capacity to another level. It is the largest collection of melanoma tissue samples in the world, donated by nearly 10,000 patients so far and growing daily. These samples add enormous value to the clinical story of our patients and drive our discovery and translational research.
Personalised diagnosis and treatment of melanoma would mean that we know what to test for and what treatment to give in each case, and it is the research conducted on these tissue and blood samples that gives us these insights. The fact that our collections extend back into the past, so that outcomes are known, makes them all the more valuable.
For example, the Biospecimen Bank inspired the Institute to launch the Australian Melanoma Genome Project, which is mapping the entire genome of 500 melanomas. This internationally ground-breaking project could simply not have taken place without the MRD and the Biospecimen Bank.
Patients contribute their tissues as a free choice and researchers do not receive identifying information. The MIA Biospecimen Bank is largely supported by donations to MIA.
To learn more about the BioSpecimen Bank download a detailed information brochure (PDF).
Melanoma Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials are the most visible aspect of Melanoma Institute Australia’s research and a critical part of turning discoveries into treatment. Read about Clinical Trials in detail.