Resources of Research
Several extensive databases and tissue banks facilitate a globally unique form of prostate cancer research: The Martini-Klinik has at its disposal for scientific processing information, blood and tissue samples of over 25,000 patients.
Networked information: the database
An extensive database in which illness-related information on patients with diagnosed prostate cancer is stored constitutes the basis of our scientific activities. In accordance with data protection regulations the data is pseudonymized ensuring that your personal data is protected pursuant to the strict statutory data protection provisions.
The creation of such an extensive database is exceptional in Germany. Internationally, our data-pool is one of the most extensive and most important databases used worldwide for research. In addition to data such as PSA-levels, age and the exact preoperative tumor diagnosis, the results of the histopathological examination of tissue from the removed prostate is gathered. In particular, we are interested in your quality of life after the therapy, especially the potential risk to potency and continence. Even many years after your operation this information is interesting for us and decisive for new therapies. Additionally, and as part of preventive research, questions about nutrition and sport are evaluated.
In addition to research, this data also serves our in-house quality control. Generally, a surgeon does not know his patients' condition years after the operation as their further treatment is carried out by their external resident specialists. Our surgeons at the Martini-Klinik use the data to check and compare the results of their treatment with regard to potency and continence of their patients. We take corrective action in the event of even slight anomalies: The subsequent operations performed by the respective surgeon are supervised in order to perfect each action. This strict but very effective method employed for the welfare of the patient is unique world-wide.
Detecting potential tumor markers: the biorepository
Prior to biopsies and radical prostatectomies, in the event of illness at an advanced stage or for the determination of the PSA-level we ask each patient to submit a serum sample in addition to the blood sample. After the blood samples have been processed in a specialized urological laboratory, they are stored at -80°C. This makes it possible that even after many years the samples can be used for scientific examinations such as tests for potential tumor markers. The biorepository now comprises over 20,000 urine and blood samples. These samples, which are also pseudonymized, are linked to the information in the database.
From molecular change to customized therapy: the tissue bank
Clinical presentations are never fully researched - prostate cancer also shows many unknown mechanisms. In addition to our biorepository, our tissue bank is the central resource at the Martini-Klinik for research on prostate cancer. More than 12,000 samples of prostate cancer tissue constitute the basis for several research projects for the identification of previously unknown genetic mechanisms of prostate cancer.
The so-called Tissue Microarrays (TMA) are a special feature of the tissue bank. A working group of the Martini-Klinik and the Department of Pathology at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf: produced these tissue chips in order to be able to make long-term prognoses for prostate cancer patients. Tiny tissue samplers of thousands of prostate tumors can be stored on these chips. This enables the prompt and precise examination of many tumors with regard to genetic changes. We are researching how to develop new forms of medication for prostate cancer with the results of these evaluations. Changes in the cells which are responsible for the development and aggressiveness of prostate cancer tumors can be analyzed on the molecular level and are also starting points for new therapies.
Recently, this has been conducted successfully. A particular genetic mechanism in the early development of prostate cancer of younger men was revealed in an international research project in which the Martini-Klinik and the Department of Pathology participated1. These differences were confirmed in a survey including more than 10,000 patients who had undergone surgery at the Martini-Klinik. We hope that our findings will be conducive to the development of new strategies for diagnosis and individualized therapy. For example, the blood of at-risk patients can be scrutinized for these specific genetic changes. Then the diagnosis of relevant tumors could occur at an earlier stage than currently, facilitating a more prompt reaction. We proceed on the assumption that, for the first time, there is now the opportunity that the new understanding of the causes of prostate cancer could entail the development of effective preventive measures so that the illness can not develop in the first place.