Human biospecimens are subject to a number of different collection, processing, and storage factors that can significantly alter their molecular composition and consistency. These biospecimen preanalytical factors, in turn, influence experimental outcomes and the ability to reproduce scientific results. Currently, the extent and type of information specific to the biospecimen preanalytical conditions reported in scientific publications and regulatory submissions varies widely. To improve the quality of research utilizing human tissues it is critical that information regarding the handling of biospecimens be reported in a thorough, accurate, and standardized manner. The Biospecimen Reporting for Improved Study Quality (BRISQ) recommendations outlined herein are intended to apply to any study in which human biospecimens are used. The purpose of reporting these details is to supply others, from researchers to regulators, with more consistent and standardized information to better evaluate, interpret, compare, and reproduce the experimental results. The BRISQ guidelines are proposed as an important and timely resource tool to strengthen communication and publications around biospecimen-related research and help reassure patient contributors and the advocacy community that the contributions are valued and respected.
Medical research to improve health care faces a major problem in the relatively limited availability of adequately annotated and collected biospecimens. This limitation is creating a growing gap between the pace of scientific advances and successful exploitation of this knowledge. Biobanks are an important conduit for transfer of biospecimens (tissues, blood, body fluids) and related health data to research. They have evolved outside of the historical source of tissue biospecimens, clinical pathology archives. Research biobanks have developed advanced standards, protocols, databases, and mechanisms to interface with researchers seeking biospecimens. However, biobanks are often limited in their capacity and ability to ensure quality in the face of increasing demand. Our strategy to enhance both capacity and quality in research biobanking is to create a new framework that repatriates the activity of biospecimen accrual for biobanks to clinical pathology.
The British Columbia (BC) BioLibrary is a framework to maximize the accrual of high-quality, annotated biospecimens into biobanks. The BC BioLibrary design primarily encompasses: 1) specialized biospecimen collection units embedded within clinical pathology and linked to a biospecimen distribution system that serves biobanks; 2) a systematic process to connect potential donors with biobanks, and to connect biobanks with consented biospecimens; and 3) interdisciplinary governance and oversight informed by public opinion.
The BC BioLibrary has been embraced by biobanking leaders and translational researchers throughout BC, across multiple health authorities, institutions, and disciplines. An initial pilot network of three Biospecimen Collection Units has been successfully established. In addition, two public deliberation events have been held to obtain input from the public on the BioLibrary and on issues including consent, collection of biospecimens and governance.
The BC BioLibrary framework addresses common issues for clinical pathology, biobanking, and translational research across multiple institutions and clinical and research domains. We anticipate that our framework will lead to enhanced biospecimen accrual capacity and quality, reduced competition between biobanks, and a transparent process for donors that enhances public trust in biobanking.
Variable biospecimen collection, processing, and storage practices may introduce variability in biospecimen quality and analytical results. This risk can be minimized within a facility through the use of standardized procedures; however, analysis of biospecimens from different facilities may be confounded by differences in procedures and inferred biospecimen quality. Thus, a global approach to standardization of biospecimen handling procedures and their validation is needed. Here we present the first in a series of procedural guidelines that were developed and annotated with published findings in the field of human biospecimen science. The series of documents will be known as NCI Biospecimen Evidence-Based Practices, or BEBPs. Pertinent literature was identified via the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Biospecimen Research Database (brd.nci.nih.gov) and findings were organized by specific biospecimen pre-analytical factors and analytes of interest (DNA, RNA, protein, morphology). Meta-analysis results were presented as annotated summaries, which highlight concordant and discordant findings and the threshold and magnitude of effects when applicable. The detailed and adaptable format of the document is intended to support the development and execution of evidence‐based standard operating procedures (SOPs) for human biospecimen collection, processing, and storage operations.
Over the past two decades, researchers have increasingly used human biospecimens to evaluate hypotheses related to disease risk, outcomes and treatment. We conducted an analysis of population-science cancer research grants funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to gain a more comprehensive understanding of biospecimens and common derivatives involved in those studies and identify opportunities for advancing the field. Data available for 1,018 extramural, peer-reviewed grants (active as of July 2012) supported by the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS), the NCI Division that supports cancer control and population-science extramural research grants, were analyzed. 455 of the grants were determined to involve biospecimens or derivatives. The most common specimen types included were whole blood (51% of grants), serum or plasma (40%), tissue (39%), and the biospecimen derivative, DNA (66%). While use of biospecimens in molecular epidemiology has become common, biospecimens for behavioral and social research is emerging, as observed in our analysis. Additionally, we found the majority of grants were using already existing biospecimens (63%). Grants that involved use of existing biospecimens resulted in lower costs (studies that used existing serum/plasma biospecimens were 4.2 times less expensive) and more publications per year (1.4 times) than grants collecting new biospecimens. This analysis serves as a first step at understanding the types of biospecimen collections supported by NCI DCCPS. There is room to encourage increased use of archived biospecimens and new collections of rarer specimen and cancer types, as well as for behavioral and social research. To facilitate these efforts, we are working to better catalogue our funded resources and make that data available to the extramural community.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Central Repository makes data and biospecimens from NIDDK-funded research available to the broader scientific community. It thereby facilitates: the testing of new hypotheses without new data or biospecimen collection; pooling data across several studies to increase statistical power; and informative genetic analyses using the Repository’s well-curated phenotypic data. This article describes the initial database plan for the Repository and its revision using a simpler model. Among the lessons learned were the trade-offs between the complexity of a database design and the costs in time and money of implementation; the importance of integrating consent documents into the basic design; the crucial need for linkage files that associate biospecimen IDs with the masked subject IDs used in deposited data sets; and the importance of standardized procedures to test the integrity data sets prior to distribution. The Repository is currently tracking 111 ongoing NIDDK-funded studies many of which include genotype data, and it houses over 5 million biospecimens of more than 25 types including serum, plasma, stool, urine, DNA, red blood cells, buffy coat and tissue. Repository resources have supported a range of biochemical, clinical, statistical and genetic research (188 external requests for clinical data and 31 for biospecimens have been approved or are pending). Genetic research has included GWAS, validation studies, development of methods to improve statistical power of GWAS and testing of new statistical methods for genetic research. We anticipate that the future impact of the Repository’s resources on biomedical research will be enhanced by (i) cross-listing of Repository biospecimens in additional searchable databases and biobank catalogs; (ii) ongoing deployment of new applications for querying the contents of the Repository; and (iii) increased harmonization of procedures, data collection strategies, questionnaires etc. across both research studies and within the vocabularies used by different repositories.
Database URL: http://www.niddkrepository.org
A paucity of information exists on the recruitment of Asian Americans for biospecimen research. Although studies show that Chinese Americans are at high risk for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, little is known about their willingness to participate in HBV-related biospecimen research and how knowledge, attitudes, and cultural factors impact their willingness to participate. The study was guided by Community-Based Participatory Research principles. Data were derived from an assessment study on HBV-related biospecimen research participation among Chinese Americans in the Philadelphia region. The assessment was conducted with 415 Chinese Americans recruited from eight Chinese community-based organizations. Cultural beliefs, knowledge, and attitudes toward biospecimen research were examined for associations with their willingness to participate in biospecimen banking research. Overall, 192 (46.3%) of 415 participants who completed the assessment indicated they were willing to participate if they were invited to donate blood to be frozen and stored for future HBV biospecimen studies. Cultural variables significant in bivariate analysis included collectivism, knowledge about biospecimen research, and Yin-Yang beliefs. Fatalism and individualism were not associated with participation willingness. In multivariate analysis, age, health care attitudes, and trust were significantly associated with willingness to participate in biospecimen banking research. Asian American communities have little knowledge of biospecimen banking and will benefit from educational campaigns that emphasize collective benefits and attitudes towards and trust in the health care system. Understanding cultural factors is important for improving Chinese Americans' knowledge, awareness, and intentions of participation in biospecimen research. Similar efforts need to be undertaken to develop culturally appropriate educational intervention programs to increase participation in biospecimen research among other Asian American groups.
On April 26, 2012, the Korea National Institute of Health officially held the opening ceremony of newly dedicated biobank building, ‘NationalBiobank of Korea’. The stocked biospecimens and related information have been distributed for medical and public health researches. The Korea Biobank Project, which was initiated in 2008, constructed the Korea Biobank Network consisting of the National Biobank of Korea (NBK) with 17 regional biobanks in Korea. As of December 2011, a total of 525,416 biospecimens with related information have been secured: 325,952 biospecimens from the general population obtained through cohort studies and 199,464 biospecimens of patients from regional biobanks. A large scale genomic study, Korea Association Resource (KARE) and many researches utilized the biospecimens secured through Korea Genome Epidemiology Study (KoGES) and Korea Biobank Project (KBP). Construction of ‘National Biobank of Korea’, a dedicated biobank building at Osong means that NBK can manage and check quality of the biospecimens with promising distribution of 26 million vials of biospecimen, which provide the infrastructure for the development of health technology in Korea. The NBK and the National Library of Medicine (to be constructed in 2014) will play a central role in future biomedical research in Korea.
biobank; biospecimen; cohort; Korea Biobank Project; Korea Biobank Network; National Biobank of Korea
Effective tracking of biospecimens within a biobank requires that each biospecimen has a unique identifier (ID). This ID can be found on the sample container as well as in the biospecimen management system. In the latter, the biospecimen ID is the key to annotation data such as location, quality, and sample processing. Guidelines such as the Best Practices from the International Society of Biological and Environmental Repositories only state that a unique identifier should be issued for each sample. However, to our knowledge, all guidelines lack a specific description of how to actually generate such an ID and how this can be supported by an IT system. Here, we provide a guide for biobankers on how to generate a biospecimen ID for your biobank. We also provide an example of how to apply this guide using a longitudinal multi-center research project (and its biobank). Starting with a description of the biobank's purpose and workflows through to collecting requirements from stakeholders and relevant documents (i.e., guidelines or data protection concepts), and existing IT-systems, we describe in detail how a concept to develop an ID system can be developed from this information. The concept contains two parts: one is the generation of the biospecimen ID according to the requirements of stakeholders, existing documentation such as guidelines or data protection concepts, and existing IT-infrastructures, and the second is the implementation of the biospecimen IDs and related functionalities covering the handling of individual biospecimens within an existing biospecimen management system. From describing the concept, the article moves on to how the new concept supports both existing or planned biobank workflows. Finally, the implementation and validation step is outlined to the reader and practical hints are provided for each step.
Although research involving biospecimens is essential in advancing cancer research, minorities, especially African-Americans, are underrepresented in such research. We conducted a mixed-method (qualitative focus groups among African-Americans and quantitative cross-sectional surveys) study on factors associated with biospecimen knowledge and donation intent in the medically underserved urban communities in Southeast and Southwest Washington, DC. Focus groups were conducted among 41 African-Americans and survey data was available from 302 community residents of different races/ethnicities using convenience sampling. We used logistic regression to model the association between biospecimen knowledge and donation intent with selected sociodemographic variables using survey data. Only 47 % of the participants had knowledge of the different types of biospecimens. In multivariate logistic regression models, male gender, African-American race, and low education levels were significantly associated with lower knowledge about biospecimens. Compared to Whites (79 %), fewer African-Americans (39 %) and Hispanics (57 %) had knowledge of biospecimens but the difference was significant for African-Americans only. Positive intent to donate biospecimens for research was observed among 36 % of the survey respondents. After multivariate adjustment, only biospecimen knowledge was associated with donation intent (odds ratio = 1.91, 95 % confidence interval 1.12, 3.27). Contrary to popular opinion, “mistrust of the medical community” was not the most commonly reported barrier for biospecimen donation among African-Americans. “Not knowing how biospecimens will be used” and “lack of knowledge of biospecimens” were the most common barriers. Our study highlights the importance of education on biospecimens among community residents to increase minority participation in biospecimen research.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12687-014-0187-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Biospecimen; Knowledge; African-American; Disparities
Biospecimen quality is affected by a number of preanalytical factors that may or may not be obvious to the investigator. These factors are introduced through multiple biospecimen collection, processing and storage procedures which can differ dramatically within and between medical institutions and biorepositories. Biospecimen Science is the emerging field of study that is attempting to quantify and control such variability. A variety of efforts are under way around the world to establish research programs, evidence-based biospecimen protocols, and standards to improve the overall quality of biospecimens for research.
Biospecimen science; Biospecimen research; Biospecimen; Best practices
The participation of racial and ethnic minorities and underserved populations in clinical trials is a critical link between scientific innovation and improvements in health care delivery and health outcomes. However, these population groups continue to be underrepresented in research. We describe the development of the Cancer Disparities Research Network (CDRN) to improve minority and underserved populations’ participation in biobanking research. Between February – October 2011, we conducted a regional assessment to identify challenges and opportunities for cancer trials and biobanking research across the CDRN. Representatives from ten CDRN biorepository facilities completed an online survey assessing their facilities’ minority biospecimen collection, biobanking practices, and education/outreach initiatives. Representatives of eight facilities also participated in stakeholder interviews. The majority (70%) of facilities reported that specimens were available for research, although only one-tenth of these specimens were from non-White patients. Most facilities collected a patient’s age, gender, race, medical history, and ethnicity with samples; however, less than half also collected family health history, education level, household income, or primary language spoken. In addition, few institutions collected Asian or Hispanic subgroup information. Only a few reported biospecimen collection outreach programs specifically targeting minority and underserved populations. Biospecimen directors and administrators indicated that funding, biospecimen sharing procedures, and standardization barriers limited their facilities from collaborating in biospecimen collection programs, despite their great interest. These findings suggest that the CDRN can provide opportunities for collaboration, resource sharing, and the fostering of research ideas to address cancer disparities in biospecimen research.
Biobanking; clinical trials; cancer research; minority and underrepresented populations
The Korea Biobank Project (KBP) was led by the Ministry of Health and Welfare to establish a network between the National Biobank of Korea and biobanks run by university-affiliated general hospitals (regional biobanks). The Ministry of Health and Welfare started the project to enhance medical and health technology by collecting, managing, and providing researchers with high-quality human bioresources. The National Biobank of Korea, under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, collects specimens through various cohorts and regional biobanks within university hospitals gather specimens from patients. The project began in 2008, and the first phase ended in 2012, which meant that there needed to be a plan for the second phase that begins in 2013. Consequently, professionals from within and outside the project were gathered to develop a plan for the second phase. Under the leadership of the planning committee, six working groups were formed to formulate a practical plan. By conducting two workshops with experts in the six working groups and the planning committee and three forums in 2011 and 2012, they have developed a strategic plan for the second phase of the KBP. This document presents a brief report of the second phase of the project based on a discussion with them.
During the first phase of the project (2008–2012), a network was set up between the National Biobank of Korea and 17 biobanks at university-affiliated hospitals in an effort to unify informatics and governance among the participating biobanks. The biobanks within the network manage data on their biospecimens with a unified Biobank Information Management System. Continuous efforts are being made to develop a common standard operating procedure for resource collection, management, distribution, and personal information security, and currently, management of these data is carried out in a somewhat unified manner. In addition, the KBP has trained and educated professionals to work within the biobanks, and has also carried out various publicity promotions to the public and researchers. During the first phase, biospecimens from more than 300,000 participants through various cohorts and biospecimens from more than 200,000 patients from hospitals were collected, which were distributed to approximately 600 research projects.
The planning committee for the second phase evaluated that the first phase of the KBP was successful. However, the first phase of the project was meant to allow autonomy to the individual biobanks. The biobanks were able to choose the kind of specimens they were going to collect and the amount of specimen they would set as a goal, as well as being allowed to choose their own methods to manage their biobanks (autonomy). Therefore, some biobanks collected resources that were easy to collect and the resources needed by researchers were not strategically collected. In addition, there was also a low distribution rate to researchers outside of hospitals, who do not have as much access to specimens and cases as those in hospitals. There were also many cases in which researchers were not aware of the KBP, and the distribution processes were not set up to be convenient to the demands of researchers.
Accordingly, the second phase of the KBP will be focused on increasing the integration and cooperation between the biobanks within the network. The KBP plans to set goals for the strategic collection of the needed human bioresources. Although the main principle of the first phase was to establish infrastructure and resource collection, the key objective of the second phase is the efficient utilization of gathered resources. In order to fully utilize the gathered resources in an efficient way, distribution systems and policies must be improved. Vitalization of distribution, securing of high-value resource and related clinical and laboratory information, international standardization of resource management systems, and establishment of a virtuous cycle between research and development (R&D) and biobanks are the four main strategies. Based on these strategies, 12 related objectives have been set and are planned to be executed.
biobank; biobank network; biospecimen; Korea Biobank Project; National Biobank of Korea
Biospecimens represent a critically important resource in pediatric brain injury research. Data from these specimens can be used to identify and classify injury, understand the molecular mechanisms underlying different types of brain injury, and ultimately identify therapeutic targets to tailor treatments for individual patient needs. To realize the full potential of biospecimens in pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI), standardization and adoption of best practice guidelines are needed to ensure the quality and consistency of specimens. Multiple groups, including the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), have previously published best practice guidelines for biospecimen resources. Recommendations have also been provided by the Biospecimens and Biomarkers Workgroup of the interagency TBI Common Data Elements (CDE) initiative. The recommendations from all of these sources, however, focus exclusively on adult biospecimen collection. There are no published pediatric-specific biospecimen collection guidelines. An additional workgroup was formed to specifically address this gap. The aim of the Pediatric TBI CDE Biospecimens and Biomarkers Workgroup was to provide recommendations for best practice guidelines to standardize the quality and accessibility of biospecimens for pediatric brain injury research in general, and for pediatric TBI research in particular. Consensus recommendations were developed by review of previously published adult-specific recommendations, including the recommendations of the original TBI Common Data Elements Biospecimens and Biomarkers Workgroup, and by participation in the interagency workshop “Common Data Elements for TBI Research: Pediatric Considerations,” held in Houston, Texas in March of 2010. These recommendations represent expert opinion on this subject. The authors of this article were members of the Biospecimens Workgroup. We hope that with adoption of these best practices, future investigators will be able to obtain biospecimens in a consistent way that meets the needs of pediatric patients, and helps to accelerate acquisition of pediatric-specific biomarker data.
best practices; biomarkers; common data elements; pediatrics; standardization; traumatic brain injury
Biobanks and biospecimens are critical components for many areas of clinical and basic research. The quality of biospecimens and associated data must be consistent and collected according to standardized methods in order to prevent spurious analytical results that can lead to artifacts being interpreted as valid findings. A number of international institutions have taken the initiative to develop and publish best practices, which include technical recommendations for handling biospecimens as well as recommendations for ethical and regulatory practices in biobanking. These sources of guidance have been useful in raising the overall consistency and quality of research involving biospecimens. However, the lack of international harmonization, uneven adoption, and insufficient oversight of best practices are preventing further improvements in biospecimen quality and coordination among collaborators and biobanking networks. In contrast to the more straightforward technical and management issues, ethical and regulatory practices often involve issues that are more controversial and difficult to standardize.
No validated multi-scale instruments exist that measure community members’ views on biobanking and biospecimen donation. This study describes the development and psychometric properties of the English-language BANKS (Biobanking Attitudes aNd Knowledge Survey).
The BANKS was created by item generation through review of scientific literature, focus groups with community members, and input from a community advisory board. Items were refined through cognitive interviews. Content validity was assessed through an expert panel review. Psychometric properties of the BANKS were assessed in a sample of 85 community members.
The final BANKS includes 3 scales: Attitudes, Knowledge, and Self-Efficacy; as well as 3 single items, which evaluated receptivity and intention to donate a biospecimen for research. Cronbach's alpha coefficients for two scales that use Likert response format indicated high internal consistency (Attitudes: α=.88; Self-Efficacy: α=.95). Content validity indices were moderate, ranging from 0.69 to 0.89. Intention to donate blood and intention to donate urine were positively correlated with attitudes, knowledge, self-efficacy, and receptivity to learning more about biobanking (p's range from .029 to <.001).
The final BANKS shows evidence of satisfactory reliability and validity, is easy to administer, and is a promising tool to inform biospecimen research. Additional studies should be conducted with larger samples considering biospecimen donation to further assess the instrument's reliability and validity.
A valid and reliable instrument measuring community members’ views about biobanking may help researchers evaluate relevant communication interventions to enhance understanding, intention, and actual biospecimen donation. A Spanish-language BANKS is under development.
Biobanking; tissue banking; survey; reliability; validity
Chinese Americans are at increased risk for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. To reduce or eliminate disparities in HBV-related infection rates, participation in scientific investigations of HBV risk and treatment, including biospecimen sampling, is important. However, Asian Americans have low rates of participation in biospecimen research, and little is known about how educational interventions affect knowledge and participation in HBV-related biospecimen research.
Eight Chinese community-based organizations participated in a quasi-experimental, two-group design with education assessments at pre- and post-workshop and a three-month follow-up. Four sites were randomly assigned to receive the intervention (n = 175) and four sites to receive general health education (control; n = 240).
Participant knowledge about biospecimen research increased from pre- to post-education in the intervention but not in the control condition. Of intervention participants, 83.4% (146/175) donated one tube of blood for future HBV biospecimen research, and 50.9% (89/175) donated another tube of blood for HBV testing. In contrast, only 1.1% of participants in the control condition reported donating a blood sample at follow-up assessment.
The intervention program significantly increased knowledge of and participation in HBV biospecimen research among Chinese Americans. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods featured active support by community leaders, a culturally specific curriculum, and convenient, immediate access to blood sampling, which resulted in high donation rates.
HBV-related morbidity and mortality is an urgent problem faced by Chinese Americans. CBPR provides a model for engaging communities in early detection, vaccination, and treatment that can reduce this health threat.
biospecimen research; biobanking; Chinese Americans; Hepatitis B; cultural factors
Latinos are one of the fastest-growing population groups in the USA, and are underrepresented in scientific research and even more so in genetic research. The disproportionately lower number of certain subpopulations participating in biomedical research has a significant impact on the representativeness of scientific outcomes. We established a collaboration with scientists at a designated National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center to test the feasibility of community-based approaches for engaging Latinos in biospecimen donation for cancer genomic research. A methods triangulation approach was applied to gain a deeper understanding from the community, that included key informant interviews with Latino community leaders (N = 6), four focus groups (N = 22) with members of the Latino community, and the use of an audience response system within the focus groups to capture quantitative data. Overall, the majority of participants had never participated in biospecimen donation; however, despite being unaware of the biobank, they expressed willingness to participate as a way to help advance research. Themes included: Confusion on what biospecimen donation process entails; Barriers to and incentives for participation; Strategies and locations for reaching the Latino community. Clear communication of the “public good” as it relates to biospecimen donation by healthy/non-patient participants is a less clearly conceptualized message; yet, the significance of delivering this message is important to gaining participation and increasing the diversity of samples available for cancer genomic studies from a broader community context.
Latino; Biobank; Biospecimen donation; Community-based; Cancer
Clinical research increasingly relies upon the availability of appropriate genetic materials; however, the proportion of biospecimens from racial/ethnic minority patients and healthy controls are underrepresented, which preclude equitable research across all patient groups for cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute-funded Community Network Program Centers in California, Florida, and New York collaborated with local community partners to conduct three independent formative research studies with diverse (African American, Asian American, Hispanic, and White) participants to explore their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about biobanking, and their experiences with the donation of biospecimens. Our findings demonstrated similarities in overall low knowledge and understanding about the use of biospecimens for research. This was exacerbated for non-English speakers. Racial and ethnic groups differed with regard to a number of factors that are obstacles for participation, e.g., continuing medical mistrust (African Americans), lack of benefit (Hispanics), apprehension about the physical toll of donating (Vietnamese), usage of biospecimen for research (Hmong and Chinese), and suspicion of exploitation by corporate entities (Whites). However, participants uniformly reported general interest and willingness to participate in biobanking for altruistic purposes, particularly to benefit future generations. This interest was framed with a strong admonition that donations should be accompanied by transparency about study sponsorship and ownership, distribution and use of biospecimens, and study information that fit participants’ backgrounds and experiences. This cross-cultural regional analysis offers significant insights into the similarities and variations in opinions and perceptions about biobanking and the collection of biospecimens for use in cancer research.
Biobanking; Biospecimens; Asian Americans; African Americans; Hispanics; Medically underserved
Research studies aimed at advancing cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment depend on a number of key resources, including a ready supply of high-quality annotated biospecimens from diverse ethnic populations that can be used to test new drugs, assess the validity of prognostic biomarkers, and develop tailor-made therapies. In November 2011, KHCCBIO was established at the King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC) with the support of Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) funding from the European Union (khccbio.khcc.jo). KHCCBIO was developed for the purpose of achieving an ISO accredited cancer biobank through the collection, processing, and preservation of high-quality, clinically annotated biospecimens from consenting cancer patients, making it the first cancer biobank of its kind in Jordan. The establishment of a state-of-the-art, standardized biospecimen repository of matched normal and lung tumor tissue, in addition to blood components such as serum, plasma, and white blood cells, was achieved through the support and experience of its European partners, Trinity College Dublin, Biostór Ireland, and accelopment AG. To date, KHCCBIO along with its partners, have worked closely in establishing an ISO Quality Management System (QMS) under which the biobank will operate. A Quality Policy Manual, Validation, and Training plan have been developed in addition to the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for consenting policies on ethical issues, data privacy, confidentiality, and biobanking bylaws. SOPs have also been drafted according to best international practices and implemented for the donation, procurement, processing, testing, preservation, storage, and distribution of tissues and blood samples from lung cancer patients, which will form the basis for the procurement of other cancer types. KHCCBIO will be the first ISO accredited cancer biobank from a diverse ethnic Middle Eastern and North African population. It will provide a unique and valuable resource of high-quality human biospecimens and anonymized clinicopathological data to the cancer research communities world-wide.
Use of electronic medical records (EMR) and residual clinical biospecimens have become important for the conduct of biomedical research. Currently, human subjects’ protection regulations permit much of this research to be conducted without individual informed consent, posing a risk to biomedical research from public objection. We sought to understand public attitudes regarding access to EMRs and residual clinical biospecimens. This article reports the results of 12 focus groups with 131 participants conducted in Utah, Washington, Arizona, and Minnesota. Results indicate strong support for biomedical and genetic research in general and clear support for improved patient education regarding research access to individual data and biospecimens. Our participants were supportive of an opt-out approach to patient decision-making regarding research access to clinical data and biospecimens for research in general.
Biobanking; Electronic health records; Human subject protections; Public attitudes
Secondary research with biospecimens acquired through clinical care and through research is often conducted without the informed consent of individuals from whom the specimens were acquired. While such uses are consistent with the current federal regulations, surveys of the general public suggest that many individuals would prefer more information and choice regarding research use of biospecimens. The federal government issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in 2011 that proposed a number of potential changes in the regulations governing human subjects. These proposed regulations are particularly pertinent to institutions committed to research involving human subjects – including institutions in the NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) consortium. In this study, we reviewed public responses by CTSA-funded institutions and CTS-affiliated organizations and groups regarding the proposed changes in the ANPRM with respect to research with biospecimens. Our results indicate that the majority of responses to the ANPRM from CTSA institutions were not supportive of the proposed changes. While many responses acknowledge a need to change current research practices regarding biospecimens, the proposed changes in the ANPRM received only limited support from this subgroup of academic research institutions.
biospecimens; informed consent; ethics
Pathologists have long served as custodians of human biospecimens collected for diagnostic purposes. Rapid advancements in diagnostic technologies require that pathologists change their practices to optimize patient care. The proper handling of biospecimens creates opportunities for pathologists to improve their diagnoses while assessing prognosis and treatment. In addition, the growing need for high-quality biorepositories represents an opportunity for community pathologists to strengthen their role within the health care team, ensuring that clinical care is not compromised while facilitating research. This article provides a resource to community pathologists learning how to create high-quality biorepositories and participating in emerging opportunities in the biorepository field. While a variety of topics are covered to provide breadth of information, the intent is to facilitate a level of understanding that permits community pathologists to make more informed choices in identifying how best their skills and practice may be augmented to address developments in this field.
Well preserved frozen biospecimens are ideal for evaluating the genome, transcriptome, and proteome. While papers reviewing individual aspects of frozen biospecimens are available, we present a current overview of experimental data regarding procurement, storage, and quality assurance that can inform the handling of frozen biospecimens. Frozen biospecimen degradation can be influenced by factors independent of the collection methodology including tissue type, premortem agonal changes, and warm ischemia time during surgery. Rapid stabilization of tissues by snap freezing immediately can mitigate artifactually altered gene expression and, less appreciated, protein phosphorylation profiles. Collection protocols may be adjusted for specific tissue types as cellular ischemia tolerance varies widely. If data is not available for a particular tissue type, a practical goal is snap freezing within 20 minutes. Tolerance for freeze-thaw events is also tissue type dependent. Tissue storage at −80°C can preserve DNA and protein for years but RNA can show degradation at 5 years. For −80°C freezers, aliquots frozen in RNAlater or similar RNA stabilizing solutions is a consideration. It remains unresolved as to whether storage at −150°C provides significant advantages relative to −80°C. Histologic quality assurance of tissue biospecimens is typically performed at the time of surgery but should also be conducted on the aliquot to be distributed because of tissue heterogeneity. Biobanking protocols for blood and its components are highly dependent on intended use and multiple collection tube types may be needed. Additional quality assurance testing should be dictated by the anticipated downstream applications.
Biorepository; biobank; frozen; tissue; procurement; biospecimen
Human biological specimens (biospecimens) are increasingly important for research that aims to advance human health. Yet, despite significant proliferation in specimen-based research and discoveries during the past decade, researchremains challenged by the inequitable access to high quality biospecimens that are collected under rigorous ethical standards. This is primarily caused by the complex level of control and ownership exerted by the myriad of stakeholders involved in the biospecimen research process. This article discusses the ethical model of custodianship as a framework for biospecimen-based research to promote fair research access and resolve issues of control and potential conflicts between biobanks**, investigators, human research participants (human subjects), and sponsors. Custodianship is the caretaking obligation for biospecimens from initial collection to final dissemination of research findings. It endorses key practices and operating principles for responsible oversight of biospecimens collected for research. Embracing the custodial model would ensure transparency in research, fairness to human research participants, and shared accountability among all stakeholders involved in biospecimen-based research.
Human biospecimens are central to biobanking efforts, yet how members of the public think about biobank procurement strategies is not well understood. This study aimed to explore public perspectives toward the procurement of residual clinical material versus “direct” procurement strategies such as the drawing of blood.
Members of the public residing in and beyond the biobank catchment area of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics were randomly selected to participate in focus groups and a telephone survey.
The majority of survey participants (75%, n=559) found both residual and direct procurement strategies equally workable. Small proportions preferred either residual (15%; n=117) or direct (5%; n=40) procurement. Focus group participants (n=48) could identify benefits to both procurement strategies, but raised concerns about possible donor inconvenience/discomfort and reduced biospecimen accrual in the case of direct procurement. Residual procurement raised concerns about lower-quality samples being procured without full donor awareness.
Biobanks should consider that members of the public in their research programs may be willing to make specimen donations regardless of whether a residual or direct procurement strategy is employed. Limiting patient discomfort and inconvenience may make direct procurement strategies more acceptable to some members of the public. Ensuring donor awareness through effective informed consent may allay public concerns about the indirectness of donating clinical biospecimens.