Biobanking and the Platform for Science Marketplace
By Brandie Nickey, Core Informatics Customer Success Manager
Not long ago, it was easy to imagine biobanking and sample management as one and the same. Both emphasize the collection, storage, and use of samples, though biobanking specifically focuses on biospecimens. The growth of personalized medicine, however, and particularly the rise of translational research and biomarker-based clinical studies, has put increasing pressure on organizations seeking high-quality biological specimens for use in their research programs. This is why we included biobanking in the initial launch of the Platform for Science Marketplace.
Our biobanking apps, along with the broader platform on which the Marketplace is based, address several challenges that plague laboratory and institutional biobanks:
- Managing samples consistently and safely. Not too long ago, most research relied on biospecimens obtained from large, dedicated biobanks. But the explosion of clinical trials and translational studies in the past decade has meant that virtually any clinical lab has the capacity to collect samples for future useÓwith appropriate permissions. To do this, though, labs need effective ways to accession samples, track their storage and upkeep, and deliver them to requesting research teams.
- Locating samples. A biobank is just like any other libraryÓwhen you’re looking for something, you don’t want to have to rifle through every item in the collection to find it. This means that for a biobank to be useful, it must do two things: ensure that samples are fully cataloged with meaningful metadata, such as collection methods, patient demographics, and clinical findings or laboratory studies, and provide ways for researchers to search the repository to find biospecimens relevant to their research.
- Complying with regulations. In addition to obtaining and recording proper consents to enable the use of biospecimens in research, labs operating under FDA, HIPAA, or CAP/CLIA must ensure both specimen integrity and patient privacy are maintained throughout the specimen’s lifecycle.
- Supporting collaborative research. Today’s clinical studies involve multiple sites, and principal investigators may be spread globally within an institution or at partner sites. Data, as well, is similarly scattered. Integrating information about physical biospecimens in a central, easy-to-access data repository makes biospecimens easier to manage and more useful to research teams, wherever they are located.
Our biobanking apps can accession and manage human, plant, animal, and microbial specimens, along with any number of metadata attributes. Integrated inventory management makes it easy to maintain a full chain-of custody for biospecimens throughout their lifecycle. Plus we provide integrated apps for tracking data associated with sample preparation, imaging, and more.
More importantly, because the apps are built on the underlying Platform for Science, you gain the flexibility to select the apps that are relevant for you. If your lab is doing clinical studies, you can select only the apps for handling human samples, or specimens from donors rather than active patients. If you do preclinical work, you’ll probably need to be able to handle specimens from other species. You can also select apps to handle the specific type of preparation or extraction techniques you perform. And of course, all Platform for Science apps integrate with each other, so any biobanking app data is easily integrated with other data, such as data associated with apps for drug discovery or next-generation sequencing or our Core LIMS or Core ELN products.
Best of all, as your science changes, so can your system. Just browse the Marketplace and select the apps you need. I hope you’ll take a look at our biobanking collection, and send us a comment to let us know what functionality you’d like to see in the Marketplace in the future.