Stop Compromising in Your Research: Why It’s Time to Break Up with Your Biobank

Biobanks have been the industry standard for sample acquisition in clinical studies, primarily because of the ease and rapid availability of similar biospecimen types. Although this has been considered the norm in research, there are many limitations to consider that can drastically affect the quality and success of your study. When using biobanked samples, researchers often need to compromise on many aspects that can affect the quality of the data in exchange for this ease of access.

But it doesn’t have to be this way – you can get high-quality biospecimens, collected how you want them and when you need them with a full repertoire of patient-reported data customized to your study. Sanguine’s vast database of over 70,000 patients combined with our in-house lab capabilities makes working with us the ideal choice for your next clinical study.

Here are five reasons that it’s time to ditch your biobank this year and partner with Sanguine instead to revolutionize your sample collection strategy.

1. Always frozen, never fresh

Most biobanks function through a retrospective collection model, where samples can be frozen over a number of years using a variety of different techniques depending on the sample type. The option to acquire fresh samples doesn’t exist with traditional biobanks which can ultimately limit your research methods or affect your results. Cryopreserved samples may be the sole option for certain cancer tissues, where the specimens only become available during treatment or surgical removal, but in many other instances, collecting fresh samples often yields superior results. For example, in the fields of metabolomics or lipidomics, utilizing frozen samples as part of the clinical study can carry many caveats, such as inconsistent sample-sample variation. Also, the concentration of metabolites can be altered by many factors, such as ongoing enzymatic activity, temperature, oxygen exposure or multiple freeze-thaw cycles, which can all influence the results generated.(1) For these and many other uses, it is advantageous to collect fresh samples on-demand from the population of interest .

At Sanguine, all of our biospecimens are collected on-demand and can be delivered fresh or frozen depending on your research needs. For example, we provide fresh or frozen research use only (RSO) leukopaks for a wide variety of disease states, including systemic lupus erythematosus, atopic dermatitis, and multiple sclerosis . Through our integrated laboratory, we can process the samples as instructed for various downstream applications based on your research needs. Our model allows for concurrent collection of additional sample types with ease (such as saliva, urine, stool, and non-invasive skin tapes ), giving you a rich source of data per patient in your study, which is often not available from biobanked samples. Our processing and analytical testing methods can be completely customized to your desired protocol to deliver the highest quality samples for your research.

2. Variability in preparation and storage methods

Although a wide variety of sample types can be collected in biobanks, there is a lot of variability in the preparation and storage methods across different organizations and even within the same biobank given that samples can be collected over a number of years by different technicians. Not knowing if samples were frozen or processed properly or if there have been any temperature variances can introduce unknown biases into your results. Such variability can affect your ability to interpret or reproduce your results and can lead to costly delays or detrimental decisions to your research program.

Working with Sanguine means your sample can be processed exactly the way you would like, customized to your research needs. Our integrated laboratory services allow for end-to-end biospecimen procurement and processing to deliver the highest quality results with minimal variability in collection and testing techniques. We provide you with transparency to our methods and ensure reproducibility in our data to preserve the integrity of your results.

3. Quality: you get what you get

Ensuring the quality of the stored biospecimens can be difficult with biobanked samples, but it is paramount for many research applications. This can be particularly true when working to characterize less stable or rare biomarkers from certain sample types. The lack of quality control in biospecimen collection, processing and storage across biobanks is the primary deterrent against utilizing these samples for research.

At Sanguine, we are committed to ensuring the highest quality samples for your research. Following sample collection, we are able to process samples within our dedicated laboratory facility according to standardized or customized protocols. We maintain the highest standards for cell viability, recovery and purity to drive research success. Our processing and testing services include PBMC isolation, including B, T and NK cell isolation, as well as other downstream testing such as HLA typing and many CLIA-certified diagnostic tests. For our RSO leukopak products, we provide certificate of analysis reports on cell viability and recovery and up to 10 billion PBMCs per pack. Our laboratory has experience in over 70 clinical tests that encompass major diagnostic assessments. Working with us can give you end-to-end processing of your samples to minimize variability and deliver the highest quality results.

4. Limited patient-related data linked to samples

An important limitation of using a biobank, particularly for rare or heterogenous diseases, is that it is difficult to retrospectively verify the sample details from the patient population you have selected. This is particularly problematic in unique or rare patient populations, where there can be large effects on the results you derive from those samples. This is because variability in disease genotypes and phenotypes or even misdiagnoses are common in rare or heterogeneous diseases, and biobanked samples can be out-of-date or missing key information that would guide whether that subject’s samples should be utilized in your study. Relying on biobanks could mean that you would need to compromise or modify your inclusion or exclusion criteria for your study based on the available sample information. It would also require you to trust that the diagnostic and medical data is accurate and complete.

At Sanguine, we verify all medical records and complete comprehensive questionnaires upon registering our patients within our database for future sample collection. We specialize in engaging with even the hardest to reach patient populations with rare and heterogenous diseases across the United States. Harnessing our vast database can provide you with an invaluable starting point with comprehensive family and natural history as well as their treatment history to preliminarily screen potential participants for your research study. From there, we can add on any further lab testing or patient surveys and questionnaires based on the customized needs of your study. We often integrate patient-reported outcomes and wearable technologies collected in real-time with the biospecimens of interest. We can also support various clinical testing methods, such as determining specific clinical genotypes and phenotypes. When eligible participants are identified, we can quickly mobilize our nationwide team to collect high-quality samples and data to propel your study towards success.

5. No recallability on that biospecimen

Typically, biobanks will completely de-identify biospecimens making it impossible to recollect a certain biospecimen or attempt to collect other types of biospecimens from the same individual for a particular study. You have to accept that the samples available presently at the biobank are all that’s available to you. If your research findings lead you to want to answer other questions using those same samples, you may be out of luck and starting from a whole new population pool, which could be less than ideal when working with rare patient populations.

At Sanguine, our patient-centered approach gives you access to more than 70,000 patients that are active and willing research participants. We specialize in longitudinal and event-based sample collection, allowing you to collect multiple samples over time based on any criteria. For example, we can rapidly mobilize our team to collect samples from SLE patients during flare-up events based on predetermined criteria. We can also easily recontact our patients to ask for them to reconsent to provide samples at a later date if needed. We also offer a community-access model partnership that allows for the acquisition of samples across multiple studies over a longer period of time to accelerate research timelines. At Sanguine, we are committed to streamlining your clinical studies and maximizing your chances of success.

Partnering with Sanguine is the missing piece in your research plans. We can collect a large variety of blood-derived and non-blood-derived samples and tissues based on your study needs and can customize collection of any other parameters such as patient-reported outcomes or data from wearable technologies. These can be collected longitudinally and as event-based samples, with immediate deployment of our mobile team to the patient’s home. Our samples are collected fresh, can be delivered on the same-day, and processed consistently according to your exact specifications to provide superior quality and trust in the data generated. Quite often, relying on a biobank falls short when designing the ideal study to answer a unique research question and compromising on these aspects can be the difference between a failed and successful study. This year, set your study up for the greatest chance of success by partnering with us for all your biospecimen collection needs.


1. Kirwan JA, Brennan L, Broadhurst D, Fiehn O, Cascante M, Dunn WB, et al. Preanalytical Processing and Biobanking Procedures of Biological Samples for Metabolomics Research: A White Paper, Community Perspective (for “Precision Medicine and Pharmacometabolomics Task Group”—The Metabolomics Society Initiative). Clinical Chemistry. 2018 Aug 1;64(8):1158–82.