Objectives: The Cancer of RESpiratory Tract (CREST) biorepository was established to investigate biological mechanisms and to develop tools and strategies for primary and secondary prevention of respiratory tract cancer. The CREST biorepository is focused on pleural malignant mesothelioma, a rare and severe cancer linked to asbestos exposure whose incidence is particularly high in the Ligurian region. Methods: The CREST biorepository includes biological specimens from (a) patients with pleural malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer, (b) patients with non-neoplastic respiratory conditions, and (c) control subjects. Whole blood, plasma, serum, lymphocytes, pleural fluid, saliva, and biopsies are collected, and a questionnaire is administered. Collection, transportation, and storage are done according to international standards. Results: As of January 31, 2008, the overall number of subjects recruited was 1,590 (446 lung cancer, 209 pleural malignant mesothelioma, and 935 controls). The biorepository includes a total of 10,055 aliquots (4,741 serum; 3,082 plasma; 1,599 whole blood; 633 pleural fluid; and 561 lymphocytes) and 107 biopsies. Demographic, clinical, and epidemiologic information is collected for each subject and processed in a dedicated database. Conclusions: The CREST biorepository is a valuable tool for molecular epidemiology and translational studies. This structure relies on a network of contacts with local health districts that allows for an active search for patients. This is a particularly efficient approach, especially when the object of the study is a rare cancer type. The CREST experience suggests that the presence of limited resources can be overcome by the biorepository specialization, the high quality of the epidemiologic information, and the variety of samples.
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