The rise in demand for biological specimens and high-quality associated clinical data for biomedical research means that biobanks are not just research support platforms but conduct their own R&D to improve their processes. In this regard, the Basque Biobank defined its commitment to R&D in its 2012-2017 strategic plan with the goal of enhancing its services and sustainability.
The Basque Biobank has two R&D areas in biobanks:
1. Study of pre-analytical data that affect sample quality
Nearly all types of biological specimens consist of live cells or molecules in suspension deriving from these cells. These specimens can be altered when subjected to changes or elements of stress during collection, processing, storage or transportation/delivery to the researcher. Other factors can also change sample stability, such as blood extraction, surgical procedures and autopsies. These variables appreciably affect the molecular composition of the sample in a short space of time and endanger the correct interpretation of the results obtained with these biospecimens. Our objective is to provide knowledge on these pre-analytical variables and new sample processing strategies.
2. Big data and biospecimen search engines on biobank networks.
We want to base our work on new information technologies and the skilled use of big data to settle complex problems related to scientific discovery and biomedical research.
In this area the Basque Biobank is leading the European BIOPOOL Project (www.biopoolproject.eu) which aims to roll out a biospecimen search engine in a network of biobanks, drawing on artificial viewing and semantic techniques. It will allow researchers to surf a biobank network for images that match the image and data of the sample of interest. The researcher receives the list of similar images and the biobanks that have them so they can contact them and request the images if they like.
The project was funded by the European Commission as part of the Seventh Framework Programme (2012-2014). The BIOPOOL consortium brought together the extensive experience of seven partners: the Basque Biobank, the Basque Foundation for Health Innovation and Research (BIOEF), TECNALIA, eMedica, Cultek, EMC Biobank, Pertimm and Brunel University from 4 countries across the European Community. The number of biobanks in the network is presently being expanded and new pathologies and staining/image types are being included.
In addition to its own activity, the Basque Biobank coordinates the R&D work of the National Biobanks Platform at the Carlos III Health Institute.
For more information on the activity of the Basque Biobank, please see (Aaro Tupasela & cols. Review 322/2015: Patients, Business and the State; Tupasela et al., “Constructing populations in biobanking” Life Sciences, Society and Policy (2015) 11:5).).
Publications of the Basque Biobank in science biobanking:
• Methodological aspects of the molecular and histological study of prostate cancer: focus on PTEN. Methods. 2015 May;77-78:25-30
• Digitalisation of histological images. Hospital Health Care. 2014 209-:212
• Sources of pre-analytical variations in yield of DNA extracted from blood samples: analysis of 50,000 DNA samples in EPIC. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e39821.
For more information: