Why You Should Break Up with Your Biobank

The initial excitement and growth of biobanks worldwide has faced several challenges related to logistics, ethics, and utility,1,2 which call into question the long-term feasibility of a relationship with the traditional biobank. Perhaps it already feels one-sided, transactional, and unbalanced when trying to fulfill the many needs of a research study design. Particularly when trying to obtain broad consent from participants for future research, getting support for a longitudinal study, complex inclusion and exclusion criteria, or fresh sample collection and same-day delivery. So, here’s why we’re saying you should break it off.

The trust and transparency problem

Achieving blanket consent from research participants is viewed with skepticism and reluctance to provide samples, especially when commercialization potential is a factor. This makes performing essential longitudinal research studies through a biobank vendor especially difficult. Longitudinal studies require multiple sample collections from a single individual, properly coded but guarded against re-identifiability— and participants want reassurance. An opacity and vagueness in sample collection and the research process can paint a mistrustful perspective of science and medicine in society. Overcoming these barriers through an engaging relationship with research participants, built on trust and transparency, is paramount for the future of biomedical research.  

Quantity over quality

Sure, you may have access to a vast inventory of samples, but are they consistently high-quality? Conventional sample collection, handling, storage, and distribution methods may be subpar or unsuitable for the generation of quality analytical data. They may also change over time within the same biobank, compromising sample integrity and introducing biases that may not be apparent. Disease characteristics or event-based sampling criteria could also evolve, especially when projects are not fully conceptualized at the time of sample purchasing, making prior samples not as informative as required. Prospectively collected biospecimens are the solution to ensuring sample quality and viability for downstream applications and reproducible results.

Not getting more of what you want: Data 

With conventional biobanks, comprehensive annotation of biospecimens may not be available. Missing demographic information, medical health records, clinical laboratory testing results, or qualitative patient-reported data could compromise your inclusion/exclusion parameters and study outcome measures, possibly leading to inconclusive results and failed studies. Data-rich samples are pivotal for confidence in results, your ability to make reliable conclusions, and, thus, for research progression across all areas of disease biology.

The bigger financial picture 

Potentially problematic in any relationship. Consider the financial burden of the infrastructure and capital equipment required, operational maintenance necessary, and the cost of less-used inventory that goes into biobanking3—which are not well known but surely transfer to researchers purchasing samples. The long-term financial viability of deposited biospecimens is a serious concern for biobanks’ future sustainability, pointing to the need for a mobile and lean approach capable of high-quality sample collection, data integration, and speedy delivery.

We invest in a relationship with you.

Prepare for the transformational. Our focus is on the value of relationships, and we’re at the forefront of the revolution. Envisioning and implementing a fully integrated service solution centered around the research participant, we have a “donation on-demand” approach that keeps the participant informed, engaged, and empowered. Our “biobank” is humanized to the likes of >30,000 patient members ready to advance science and medicine for the conditions they live with. A relationship with us means access to even the hardest to reach populations—for even the most complex sample criteria collected over time to help you get it done.

 

References

  1. Cambon-Thomsen A, Rial-Sebbag E, Knoppers BM. Trends in ethical and legal frameworks for the use of human biobanks. Eur Respir J. 2007;30(2):373–382. 
  2. Chalmers D, Nicol D, Kaye J, et al. Has the biobank bubble burst? Withstanding the challenges for sustainable biobanking in the digital era. BMC Med Ethics. 2016;17(1):39.
  3. Odeh H, Miranda L, Rao A, et al. The Biobank Economic Modeling Tool (BEMT): Online Financial Planning to Facilitate Biobank Sustainability, Biopreserv Biobank 2015; 13(6): 421–429.