The Ontario Tumour Bank (OTB) provides tissue solutions for cancer research. Academic and industry-based researchers in Canada and internationally can count on the Ontario Tumour Bank to provide tissue and blood samples of high quality, diversity and integrity. Four academic teaching hospitals across Ontario currently collect samples and data from participating donors for the OTB. OTB distinctively features direct control over every aspect of collection, storage and access to an extensive inventory of cancer biospecimens with rich, de-identified, clinical data. Access procedures for researchers are streamlined while ensuring high ethical standards and protection of donor privacy and confidentiality.

Please click here for a summary of all products and services.

Sample Types

  • Tumour tissue;
  • Normal-adjacent tissue;
  • Peripheral blood (plasma, CNA (circulating nucleic acid) plasma and buffy coat).

Sample Preparation

  • Fresh frozen tissue (~250 mg/vial);
  • Slides, wax sections and paraffin-embedded formalin-fixed tissue sections;
  • Cryopreserved plasma (1 ml/vial), CNA (circulating nucleic acid) plasma (1 ml/vial) and buffy coat (~250 µl/vial).

Clinical Data

Molecular variation in tumour samples may relate to variation in clinical outcome. To facilitate such studies OTB collects detailed information on every case. OTB can provide detailed, non-identifying information to researchers on approximately 400 clinical data elements, including:

  • Donor demographic information (e.g., age range, anatomical sex, vital status);
  • Outcomes and progression of disease (e.g., initial diagnosis, metastasis, recurrence);
  • Sample collection details (e.g., collection date, processing time);
  • Pathology and diagnosis details (e.g., histology, size of tumour, grade);
  • Staging;
  • Patient history (e.g., prior cancers, weight loss, history of smoking);
  • Family history of cancer;
  • Treatment details for surgeries, radiotherapy and systemic therapy (e.g., start and end dates, intent, outcome, agents);
  • Toxicities relating to treatment.

Digital Images

H&E stained sections from paraffin-embedded formalin-fixed tissue are digitally imaged using Aperio technologies. These images are hosted in the OTB’s image database ( and are provided when a sample search is requested.

Derivative Products

OTB provides services on request to support clinical and translational research:

  • RNA extraction from tissue (fresh frozen and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded):
    • Each batch of RNA is quality tested to evaluate purity (absorbance). OTB strives to provide RNA free of DNA, protein, organic compounds and salt contamination. Per OTB standards and international best practices, the A260/A280 of extracted RNA must be between 1.9 and 2.1;
    • RNA integrity can be evaluated on request. This is measured using Agilent Bioanalyser technologies to assign a RIN score.
  • DNA extraction from buffy coat mononucleocytes and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue:
    • Each batch of DNA is quality tested to evaluate purity (absorbance). OTB strives to provide DNA free of RNA, protein, organic compound and salt contamination. Per OTB standards and international best practices, the A260/A280 of extracted DNA must be between 1.7 and 1.9;
    • DNA integrity can be evaluated on request. This is determined using DNA banding (PCR amplification) and gel electrophoresis.
  • Tissue microarray construction and sectioning. OTB has 7 specially-designed microarrays on hand and can create customized tissue microarrays (TMAs) are upon request (click here for a list of readily-available TMAs);
  • Customized TMAs available on request:
    • OTB has access to expertise to guide the design of the TMA to ensure quality data, including duplicate placement and selection of controls;
    • Following an assessment of the researcher’s needs, paraffin blocks are selected for TMA construction. A fresh H&E-stained slide from each donor block is “tumour marked” to ensure correct sites are sampled for the TMA;
    • A TMA map outlining the proposed layout of the cores in the recipient block is presented to the researcher for approval prior to construction;
    • Due to the nature of tissue microarrays, it is not uncommon for a small number of cores to slip out of the TMA when cutting sections. This is estimated to occur with approximately 4 per cent of cores. For this reason it is recommended that a minimum of two to three cores per donor be included;
    • Tumour core size (0.6-2.0mm), microscope slide type and section baking times can also be customized on request;
    • Researchers are able to request the entire TMA block or sections from the block;
    • The full process from tissue selection to final array construction, sectioning, and shipment is quick and easy. Estimated times for delivery are less than 30 days from date of approved application, pending the details of the customized project.
  • Sections from previously constructed TMAs are also available on request;
  • TMA blocks and sections are supplied with the following:
    • De-identified data reports for each block used in the preparation of the TMA;
    • TMA map outlining the contents of each core.

Is there a service you need that is not listed here? Please contact us for custom requests.

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