About Janus serum bank

Those who have donated blood samples to the Janus Bank have made a valuable contribution to cancer research. Here you will find more information about the history of the Janus Bank and what the samples have been used for.
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History of the Janus Bank

The collection for the Janus Serum Bank was initiated by Professor of Pathology, Olav Torgersen. The bank was formally established in 1973, and the Norwegian Cancer Society financed its operations until 2004. The bank was then transferred to the Cancer Registry, which currently manages the material and is responsible for the administration and operation of the bank. In 2008, the Janus Bank established its own laboratory at the Cancer Registry. The biobank consists of serum from 318,628  men and women who participated in various national cardiovascular surveys in the period 1972-2004. In Oslo and the surrounding area, Red Cross blood donors also participated. The samples in the Janus Bank therefore come from all over the country, and both urban and rural areas are represented. A small proportion of samples come from former janus donors who have developed cancer and have been treated at the Norwegian Radium Hospital. More detailed information can be found in the article "Cohort Profile: the Janus Serum Bank Cohort in Norway", written by Hilde Langseth et al, 2016. 


Since its inception, the purpose of collecting the biological material and processing data in the Janus Bank has been to build up a resource for research on the causes of cancer and early detection of cancer, as well as increase understanding of the disease process, by measuring biochemical and immunological changes in serum samples taken before a cancer diagnosis 

The sample material

The samples in the Janus Bank consist of blood serum, which is the clear, yellow fluid phase that is secreted when blood coagulates. It consists of about 90% water and contains proteins (immunoglobulins, transport proteins and enzymes), lipids, hormones, vitamins, minerals, salts and ions, amino acids, water-soluble components, inorganic electrolytes, sugars, carbon dioxide and oxygen. The serum in the Janus Bank also contains small amounts of white blood cells, probably because the separation between blood cells and serum has not been complete. 

Frozen serum samples

The samples in the Janus Bank are stored frozen at minus 25 ºC. The oldest samples have been stored since 1973. To ensure that the samples are of sufficient quality, researchers at the Janus Bank have carried out several quality studies, where a number of components have been examined in terms of storage time and temperature. The results show some varying stability, but a number of components prove to be very stable even after many years of storage. Read more about sample quality here.

For more information about the material in Janus Serum Bank, see here.

Research activity

The Janus samples have been used in a wide range of studies, both nationally and internationally. There is currently a great deal of research activity, especially in causal research and research on early markers of cancer. To date, about 70,000 samples from the biobank have been analysed, within a wide range of biochemical analyses. Biomarkers for exposure, effect, prognosis and genetic vulnerability have all been investigated. The Janus Bank consists of a large number of samples, both from people who have developed cancer and from healthy individuals, and several of these have donated serum repeatedly. This provides a unique opportunity to follow the development of the disease through the time before diagnosis.   The subgroup of samples taken after diagnosis makes it possible to investigate changes in biomarkers in the same individual before and after a cancer diagnosis. New technology makes it possible to use the samples also in more advanced molecular analyses. Among other things, miRNA profiles have been produced in a large dataset from the Janus Bank, and it has been shown that the DNA in the Janus samples is of sufficient quality and quantity for genomic SNP genotyping using microarray technology.

Steering committee 

The Janus Serum Bank has a steering commitee consisting of five members composed according to academic, geographical and institutional criteria.

There must be at least one representative from the Cancer Registry of Norway and one representative from the Norwegian Cancer Society. Efforts shall be made to ensure that the steering group is gender balanced. The chairman of the board is elected by and from among the members of the board. The composition is approved by the Cancer Registry's management for a term of office of 4 years.




Term of office

Tone Bjørge, professor, MD PhD

University of Bergen and Norwegian Institute of Public Health


Wenche Reed, MD PhD

Staff research, innovation and education at OUS.


Eivind Hovig, Professor, PhD 

Institute for Cancer Research at the Norwegian Radium Hospital and UiO


Ole Alexander Opdalshei

Deputy Secretary General of the Norwegian Cancer Society


Bettina Kulle Andreassen, PhD

Cancer Registry of Norway


Randi Færden

User participation 01.06.20-31.05.24


Meetings are held as needed and at least twice a year. Before the steering committee holds a meeting, there must be a agenda that is sent to the members at least two weeks before the meeting. Proceedings can also take place via e-mail and telephone. The minutes of the steering committee's meetings are kept. Drafts are sent to members for comments and final approval. Decisions are in the protocol.