"Molecular histology" of the breast may be conceptualized as encompassing the normative ranges of histologic structure and marker expression in normal breast tissues in relation to a woman's age and life experiences. Studies of molecular histology can aid our understanding of early events in breast carcinogenesis and provide data for comparison with diseased breast tissues. Until recently, lack of epidemiologically annotated, optimally prepared normal breast tissues obtained from healthy women presented a barrier to breast cancer research. The Komen Tissue Bank at Indiana University (Indianapolis, IN) is a unique biorepository that was developed to overcome this limitation. The Bank enrolls healthy donors who provide questionnaire data, blood, and up to four breast biopsies, which are prepared as both formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded and frozen tissues. The resource is accessible to researchers worldwide through a proposal submission, review, and approval process. As of November 2010, the Bank had collected specimens and information from 1,174 donors. In this review, we discuss the importance of studying normal breast tissues, assess the strengths and limitations of studying normal tissues obtained from different sources, and summarize the features of the Komen Tissue Bank. As research projects are completed, results will be posted on the Bank's website.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research