The Detroit human tissue bank Asterand plc (LSE: ATD) Monday announced a five-year contract with the National Cancer Institute to supply clinically annotated human biospecimens for The Cancer Genome Atlas.

The base award is $5.4 million over 17 months, but the deal could be worth up to $24.3 million if extended.

The contract is partly funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the federal stimulus.

Asterand CEO Martyn Coombs said The Cancer Genome Atlas “will revolutionize the molecular understanding of cancer. This project emphasizes the significant impact of well characterized and high quality human specimens on modern biomedical research.”

He said the contract also “plays an important part in our strategy to expand our work with government institutions.”

Asterand plc is a leading supplier of high quality human tissue and tissue-based services, offering pharmaceutical, biotech and diagnostic companies the unique opportunity to have one company meet all of their human biomaterial needs along the continuum of drug discovery and development. Asterand’s mission is to accelerate target discovery and compound validation and enable pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to take safer and more effective drugs into the clinic.

Asterand manages a network of more than 100 active collaborative donor institutions and maintains a repository of several hundred thousand specimens for immediate shipment. In addition, human tissues and clinical data can be custom collected to meet special requirements; including the collection of follow-up data related to patient outcome.

Asterand’s renowned quality assurance procedures provide stringent controls on specimen collection, characterization and on the corresponding clinical data. These procedures allow researchers to choose samples that will best meet their scientific requirements.

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) is a comprehensive, coordinated effort to accelerate the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through the application of genome analysis technologies. TCGA is a joint effort of the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute. The TCGA began as a pilot project in 2006 to test the feasibility of a full-scale effort to systematically explore the genomic changes involved in human cancers. The success of the pilot has resulted in an expansion of the project to analyze 20 or more additional cancers to yield a comprehensive, rigorous and publicly accessible data set that will improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. Learn more at

More about Asterand at

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