Four academic teaching hospitals across Ontario currently collect samples and data from participating donors for 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.

Sample Types

  • Tumour tissue;
  • Normal-adjacent tissue;
  • Peripheral blood (plasma, cell-free plasma and buffy coat).

Sample Preparation

  • Fresh frozen tissue (~250 mg/vial);
  • Slides, wax sections and formalin fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue sections;
  • Cryopreserved plasma (1 ml/vial), cell-free 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 suppressed to 5-year range, biological sex, vital status);
  • Outcomes and progression of disease (e.g., initial diagnosis, metastasis, recurrence);
  • Sample collection details (e.g., year of collection, 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.
  • Specific intervals we can calculate to research specifications.

Digital Images

H&E stained sections from paraffin-embedded formalin-fixed tissue are digitally imaged using Aperio technologies at 20x magnification. Higher magnification scans can be acquired upon request (e.g. 40x magnification). These images are hosted in OTB’s image database are provided when a sample search is requested.

Derivative Products

  • RNA
  • DNA
  • Tissue MicroArrays (TMA)

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 (RIN score) can be evaluated on request.

  • 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.

  • Tissue microarrays: OTB has a number of specially-designed tissue microarrays on hand and can create customised tissue microarrays (TMAs) upon request;
    • OTB has access to expertise to guide the design of the TMA, 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;
    • Tumour core size (0.6-2.0mm), microscope slide type and section baking times can also be customised 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 customised project.
    • Note: 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 in the design;
  • Sections from previously constructed TMAs are also available on request;
  • All 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.

Please contact us directly at for all queries and requests.