NHS Blood and Transplant has awarded £2.4 million to the Quality in Organ Donation (QUOD) programme, hosted by the University of Oxford on behalf of the national consortium of transplant centres, to extend the biobank infrastructure until 2025.
QUOD is a unique national biomedical resource combining detailed clinical data from almost all organ donors in the UK with a biobank of blood, urine, and tissue samples taken around the time of donation. This combination of data and samples enables ground-breaking research on biomarkers to predict organ function as well as study mechanisms of organ damage and repair.
Such research contributes to better selection and optimisation of organs for successful transplantation. These efforts are a vital part of NHSBT’s overall strategy to address the lengthy waiting periods for transplant recipients. By enhancing our understanding of which organs are most suitable for transplant, and how organ injury in the transplant process can be prevented and reversed, QUOD aims to increase organ utilisation. This will make more organs available for transplant and reduce the persistent gap between patient need and organ supply.
Since launching in 2013, QUOD has collected over 90,000 samples from almost 5,000 deceased donors. The biobank has received 63 applications, supported by nearly three dozen funders, involving multiple disciplines including proteomics, transcriptomics, immunology, and pathology. Using QUOD resources, investigators have generated dozens of journal articles, dissertations, and major conference presentations, including multiple Medawar Award nominees at the British Transplant Society congress.
In 2019 the biobank initiated collection of new sample types—cardiac biopsies and bronchoalveolar lavage samples — and the next five years will see the continuation of this collection and the issuing of these samples to new research projects. Plans are underway to add bile and bile duct samples from liver donors. Following crucial support for national initiatives in Normothermic Regional Perfusion and the PITHIA trial, QUOD will continue to offer expertise and logistical help for appropriate clinical trials and service development. Most importantly, the biobank will extend its provision of, and research with whole organs, enabling further development of the whole-organ pathology atlases initiated under a £1.7m MRC grant received in 2017.
Although the introduction of presumed consent for organ donation (i.e, the “opt out” policy) is expected to increase the overall numbers of organs available for transplant, clinicians still need better tools to understand which organs will function best for which donors. Thus QUOD has ambitious aims to facilitate research in transplantation until 2025 and beyond.