The King's College London (KCL) Infectious Diseases BioBank opened in 2007 and collects peripheral venous blood (PVB) from individuals infected with pathogens including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). PVBs are fractionated into plasmas, lymphocytes and DNA and are then frozen. All donations are from subjects who have given 'open consent' so samples can be used for virtually any type of biomedical research. The HIV component of the BioBank contains samples from over 400 donations from 138 HIV+ patients. Thus, the KCL Infectious Diseases BioBank - together with establishments such as the Spanish HIV BioBank - is likely to expedite translational research into this infection.
The Infectious Diseases BioBank (IDB) has consistently archived peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMNC) RNA for transcriptome analyses. RNA is particularly labile, and hence, these samples provide a sensitive indicator for assessing the IDB's quality-assurance measures. Independent analyses of 104 PBMNC RNA specimens from 26 volunteers revealed that the mean RNA integrity number (RIN) was high (9.02), although RIN ranged between scores of 7 and 10. This variation of RIN values was not associated with ischemic time, PBMNC quality, number of samples processed per day, self-medication after immunization, freezer location, donor characteristics, differential white blood cell counts, or daily variation in RNA extractions (all P>0.05). RIN values were related to the date of collection, with those processed during mid-summer having highest RIN scores (P=0.0001). Amongst specimens with the lowest RIN scores, no common feature could be identified. Thus, no technical explanation for the variation in RNA quality could be ascertained and these may represent normal physiological variations. These data provide strong evidence that current IDB protocols for the isolation and preservation PBMNC RNA are robust.
Although US research regulations allow for de-identified biorepositories to be developed without formal informed consent from the patients whose samples are included, it is unknown whether this model will be well-received by community members. Based on early evidence that such a biobank could be successful if patients who object have the opportunity to opt-out, Vanderbilt University developed a biorepository named BioVU that follows this model. This study reports the findings from two large-scale surveys among communities important to this biorepository. In the first, a population-based phone survey of Nashville residents, we found that approval for BioVU is high (93.9%) and that this approval is similar among all population groups. A hypothetical biobank that does not obtain some form of written permission is much less well received. In the second, an online survey of Vanderbilt University faculty and staff, we found a higher level of support for BioVU (94.5%) among faculty and staff working throughout the university. In this survey, employees least likely to approve of BioVU are those employees who prefer not to receive medical care at Vanderbilt University. These surveys demonstrate the highest level of approval for a genomic biobank ever reported in the literature, even among groups traditionally cautious about such research. This high level of approval may reflect increasing comfort with genomic research over time combined with the effect that trust in a specific institution can have on approval for an operating biobank compared with approval of a hypothetical biobank.
biorepository research; patient perspectives; research ethics
The tissue biobanking of specific biological residual materials, which constitutes a useful resource for medical/scientific research, has raised some ethical issues, such as the need to define which kind of consent is applicable for biological residual materials biobanks.
Biobank research cannot be conducted without considering arguments for obtaining the donors’ consent: in this paper we discuss to what extent consent in biobank research on oncological residual materials has to be required, and what type of consent would be appropriate in this context, considering the ethical principles of donation, solidarity, protection of the donors’ rights and the requirements of scientific progress. Regarding the relationship between informed consent and tissue collection, storage and research, we have focused on two possible choices related to the treatment of data and samples in the biobank: irreversible and reversible anonymization of the samples, distinguishing between biobank research on residual materials for which obtaining consent is necessary and justified, and biobank research for which it is not. The procedures involve different approaches and possible solutions that we will seek to define. The consent for clinical research reported in the Helsinki Declaration regards research involving human beings and for this reason it is subordinate to specific and detailed information on the research projects.
An important ethical aspect in regard to the role of Biobanks is encouraging sample donation. For donors, seeing human samples being kept rather than discarded, and seeing them become useful for research highlights the importance of the human body and improves the attitude towards donation. This process might also facilitate the giving of informed consent more willingly, and with greater trust.
Biobanks; Consent; Oncological residual material; Cancer biobanks; Residual materials biobanks; Informed consent; Ethics; Research; Solidarity
Interest in biobanking for collection of specimens for non-communicable diseases research has grown in recent times. This paper explores the perspectives of Nigerians on donation of specimen for the biobanking research.
We conducted 16 Focus Group Discussions (FGD) with individuals from different ethnic, age and socio-economic groups in Kano (North), Enugu (Southeast), Oyo States (Southwest) and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (Central) of Nigeria. We used topic guides and prompt statements to explore the knowledge and understanding of interviewees to general issues about biobanking of biospecimens, their use and specifically about role of biobanking in non-communicable diseases research.
A total of 123 individuals participated in 16 focus group discussions in 2011. Our participants had limited knowledge of the concept of biobanking but accepted it once they were educated about it and saw it as a worthwhile venture. Half of our study participants supported use of broad consent, a quarter supported restricted consent while the remaining quarter were in favour of tiered consent. Most discussants support shipment of their samples to other countries for further research, but they prefer those collaborations to be done only with competent, ethical researchers and they would like to receive feedback about such projects. The majority preferred health care as a benefit from participation, particularly for any unexpected condition that may be discovered during the course of the research instead of financial compensation. Participants emphasized the need to ensure that donated samples were not used for research that contradicts their religious beliefs.
Our study demonstrates that our participants accepted biobanking once they understand it but there were different attitudes to elements of biobanking such as type of consent. Our study highlights the need to carefully document population attitudes to elements of modern scientific research and the consenting process.
Biobanking; Non-communicable diseases; Public perspectives; Nigeria
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
Population biobanks offer new opportunities for public health, are rudimentary for the development of its new branch called Public Health Genomics, and are important for translational research. This article presents organizational models of population biobanks in selected European countries. Review of bibliography and websites of European population biobanks (UK, Spain, Estonia). Some countries establish national genomic biobanks (DNA banks) in order to conduct research on new methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the genetic and lifestyle diseases and on pharmacogenetic research. Individual countries have developed different organizational models of these institutions and specific legal regulations regarding various ways of obtaining genetic data from the inhabitants, donors’ rights, organizational and legal aspects. Population biobanks in European countries were funded in different manners. In light of these solutions, the authors discuss prospects of establishing a Polish national genomic biobank for research purpose. They propose the creation of such an institution based on the existing network of blood-donation centres and clinical biobanks in Poland.
DNA banking; Genetic epidemiology; Population biobanks; Public health genomics; Life Sciences; Human Genetics; Plant Genetics & Genomics; Animal Genetics and Genomics; Microbial Genetics and Genomics; Life Sciences, general
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.
The participation of minors in biobank research can offer great benefits for science and
health care. However, as minors are a vulnerable population they are also in need of
adequate protective measures when they are enrolled in research. Research using biobanked
biological samples from children poses additional ethical issues to those raised by
research using adult biobanks. For example, small children have only limited capacity, if
any, to understand the meaning and implications of the research and to give a documented
agreement to it. Older minors are gradually acquiring this capacity. We describe
principles for good practice related to the inclusion of minors in biobank research,
focusing on issues related to benefits and subsidiarity, consent, proportionality and
return of results. Some of these issues are currently heavily debated, and we conclude by
providing principles for good practice for policy makers of biobanks, researchers and
anyone involved in dealing with stored tissue samples from children. Actual implementation
of the principles will vary according to different jurisdictions.
In the last decade, the inhibition of protein-protein interactions (PPIs) has emerged from both academic and private research as a new way to modulate the activity of proteins. Inhibitors of these original interactions are certainly the next generation of highly innovative drugs that will reach the market in the next decade. However, in silico design of such compounds still remains challenging.
Here we describe this particular PPI chemical space through the presentation of 2P2IDB, a hand-curated database dedicated to the structure of PPIs with known inhibitors. We have analyzed protein/protein and protein/inhibitor interfaces in terms of geometrical parameters, atom and residue properties, buried accessible surface area and other biophysical parameters. The interfaces found in 2P2IDB were then compared to those of representative datasets of heterodimeric complexes. We propose a new classification of PPIs with known inhibitors into two classes depending on the number of segments present at the interface and corresponding to either a single secondary structure element or to a more globular interacting domain. 2P2IDB complexes share global shape properties with standard transient heterodimer complexes, but their accessible surface areas are significantly smaller. No major conformational changes are seen between the different states of the proteins. The interfaces are more hydrophobic than general PPI's interfaces, with less charged residues and more non-polar atoms. Finally, fifty percent of the complexes in the 2P2IDB dataset possess more hydrogen bonds than typical protein-protein complexes. Potential areas of study for the future are proposed, which include a new classification system consisting of specific families and the identification of PPI targets with high druggability potential based on key descriptors of the interaction.
2P2I database stores structural information about PPIs with known inhibitors and provides a useful tool for biologists to assess the potential druggability of their interfaces. The database can be accessed at http://2p2idb.cnrs-mrs.fr.
Autoantibodies have a central role in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The presence of autoantibodies preceding disease onset by years has been reported both in patients with SLE and in those with rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting a gradual development of these diseases. Therefore, we sought to identify autoantibodies in a northern European population predating the onset of symptoms of SLE and their relationship to presenting symptoms.
The register of patients fulfilling the American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE and with a given date of the onset of symptoms was coanalysed with the register of the Medical Biobank, Umeå, Sweden. Thirty-eight patients were identified as having donated blood samples prior to symptom onset. A nested case-control study (1:4) was performed with 152 age- and sex-matched controls identified from within the Medical Biobank register (Umeå, Sweden). Antibodies against anti-Sjögren's syndrome antigen A (Ro/SSA; 52 and 60 kDa), anti-Sjögren's syndrome antigen B, anti-Smith antibody, ribonucleoprotein, scleroderma, anti-histidyl-tRNA synthetase antibody, double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), centromere protein B and histones were analysed using the AtheNA Multi-Lyte ANA II Plus Test System on a Bio-Plex Array Reader (Luminex200). Antinuclear antibodies test II (ANA II) results were analysed using indirect immunofluorescence on human epidermal 2 cells at a sample dilution of 1:100.
Autoantibodies against nuclear antigens were detected a mean (±SD) of 5.6 ± 4.7 years before the onset of symptoms and 8.7 ± 5.6 years before diagnosis in 63% of the individuals who subsequently developed SLE. The sensitivity (45.7%) was highest for ANA II, with a specificity of 95%, followed by anti-dsDNA and anti-Ro/SSA antibodies, both with sensitivities of 20.0% at specificities of 98.7% and 97.4%, respectively. The odds ratios (ORs) for predicting disease were 18.13 for anti-dsDNA (95% confidence interval (95% CI), 3.58 to 91.84) and 11.5 (95% CI, 4.54 to 28.87) for ANA. Anti-Ro/SSA antibodies appeared first at a mean of 6.6 ± 2.5 years prior to symptom onset. The mean number of autoantibodies in prediseased individuals was 1.4, and after disease onset it was 3.1 (P < 0.0005). The time predating disease was shorter and the number of autoantibodies was greater in those individuals with serositis as a presenting symptom in comparison to those with arthritis and skin manifestations as the presenting symptoms.
Autoantibodies against nuclear antigens were detected in individuals who developed SLE several years before the onset of symptoms and diagnosis. The most sensitive autoantibodies were ANA, Ro/SSA and dsDNA, with the highest predictive OR being for anti-dsDNA antibodies. The first autoantibodies detected were anti-Ro/SSA.
Biobank is a very sophisticated system that consists of a programmed storage of biological material and corresponding data. Biobanks are created to be used in medical research, in clinical and translational medicine, and in healthcare. In the past 20 years, a large number of biobanks have been set up around the world, to support the modern research directions in medicine such as omix and personalized medicine. More recently, embryonic and adult stem cell banks have been developed. Stem cell banking was reported to be required for medical research as well as clinical transplant applications. The quality of the samples stored in a biobank is very important. The standardization is also important; the biological material stored in a biobank must be processed in a manner that allows compatibility with other biobanks that preserve samples in the same field. In this paper, we review some issues related to biobanks purposes, quality, harmonization, and their financial and ethical aspects.
Within translational research projects in the recent years large biobanks have been established, mostly supported by homegrown, proprietary software solutions. No general requirements for biobanking IT infrastructures have been published yet. This paper presents an exemplary biobanking IT architecture, a requirements specification for a biorepository management tool and exemplary illustrations of three major types of requirements.
We have pursued a comprehensive literature review for biobanking IT solutions and established an interdisciplinary expert panel for creating the requirements specification. The exemplary illustrations were derived from a requirements analysis within two university hospitals.
The requirements specification comprises a catalog with more than 130 detailed requirements grouped into 3 major categories and 20 subcategories. Special attention is given to multitenancy capabilities in order to support the project-specific definition of varying research and bio-banking contexts, the definition of workflows to track sample processing, sample transportation and sample storage and the automated integration of preanalytic handling and storage robots.
IT support for biobanking projects can be based on a federated architectural framework comprising primary data sources for clinical annotations, a pseudonymization service, a clinical data warehouse with a flexible and user-friendly query interface and a biorepository management system. Flexibility and scalability of all such components are vital since large medical facilities such as university hospitals will have to support biobanking for varying monocentric and multicentric research scenarios and multiple medical clients.
Requirement specification; biobanking; translational research information technology infrastructure
Advances in genomic technologies and the promise of “personalised medicine” have spurred the interest of researchers, healthcare systems, and the general public. However, the success of population-based genetic studies depends on the willingness of large numbers of individuals and diverse communities to grant researchers access to detailed medical and genetic information. Certain features of this kind of research – such as the establishment of biobanks and prospective data collection from participants’ electronic medical records – make the potential risks and benefits to participants difficult to specify in advance. Therefore, community input into biobank processes is essential. In this report, we describe community engagement efforts undertaken by six United States biobanks, various outcomes from these engagements, and lessons learned. Our aim is to provide useful insights and potential strategies for the various disciplines that work with communities involved in biobank-based genomic research.
Genomic biobanks present ethical challenges that are qualitatively unique and quantitatively unprecedented. Many critics have questioned whether the current system of informed consent can be meaningfully applied to genomic biobanking. Proposals for reform have come from many directions, but have tended to involve incremental change in current informed consent practice. This paper reports on our efforts to seek new ideas and approaches from those whom informed consent is designed to protect: research subjects. Our model emerged from semi-structured interviews with healthy volunteers who had been recruited to join either of two biobanks (some joined, some did not), and whom we encouraged to explain their concerns and how they understood the relationship between specimen contributors and biobanks. These subjects spoke about their DNA and the information it contains in ways that were strikingly evocative of the legal concept of the trade secret. They then described the terms and conditions under which they might let others study their DNA, and there was a compelling analogy to the commonplace practice of trade secret licensing. We propose a novel biobanking model based on this trade secret concept, and argue that it would be a practical, legal, and ethical improvement on the status quo.
Eighty Dutch investigators (response 41%) involved in biobank research responded to a web-based survey addressing communication of results of biobank research to individual participants. Questions addressed their opinion towards an obligation to communicate results and related issues such as ownership of blood samples, privacy, therapeutic relationship, costs and implications for participants. Most researchers (74%) indicated that participants only have to be informed when results have implications for treatment or prevention. Researchers were generally not inclined to provide more feedback to patients as compared with healthy participants, nor were they inclined to provide feedback in return for participants' contribution to the biobank. Our results demonstrate major and significant differences in opinion about the feedback of individual results within the community of biobank researchers.
biobanks; genetic databases; disclosing results; researchers' opinions
Cancer innovations, such as biobanking technologies, are continuously evolving to improve our understanding and knowledge about cancer prevention and treatment modalities. However, the public receives little communication about biobanking and is often unaware about this innovation until asked to donate biospecimens. It is the researchers’ ethical duty to provide clear communications about biobanking and biospecimen research. Such information allows the public to understand biobanking processes and facilitates informed decision making about biospecimen donation. The aims of this paper are 1) to examine the importance of clear communication as an ethical imperative when conveying information about cancer innovations and 2) to illustrate the use of an organizing framework, the CLEAN (Culture, Literacy, Education, Assessment, and Networking) Look approach for creating educational priming materials about the topic of biobanking.
Biobanking; health communication; ethics
There is a rising need for biomaterial in dermatological research with regard to both quality and quantity. Research biobanks as organized collections of biological material with associated personal and clinical data are of increasing importance. Besides technological/methodological and legal aspects, the willingness to donate samples by patients and healthy volunteers is a key success factor. To analyze the theoretical willingness to donate blood and skin samples, we developed and distributed a questionnaire. Six hundred nineteen questionnaires were returned and analyzed. The willingness to donate samples of blood (82.5%) and skin (58.7%) is high among the population analyzed and seems to be largely independent of any expense allowance. People working in the healthcare system, dermatological patients, and higher qualified individuals seem to be in particular willing to donate material. An adequate patient insurance as well as an extensive education about risks and benefits is requested. In summary, there is a high willingness to donate biological samples for dermatological research. This theoretical awareness fits well with our own experiences in establishing such a biobank.
The concept of tissue banking as a “bio-repository” aimed to collection, storing and distribution of human biological material and clinical information, is emerging as a successful strategy to support clinical and translational research. In particular, Tumor Biobanks represent a key resource for diagnosis, research and experimental therapies, especially for those correlated to clinical application of a new type of medicine known as “intelligent drugs”.
Biobanks are not “spontaneous” collections, but they needs an institutional organization, basically a research unit, whose effectiveness and quality can be guaranteed only if it is carefully organized according to precise and shared rules.
To characterize patients’ willingness to donate a biospecimen for future research as part of a breast cancer-related biobank involving a general screening population.
Materials and Methods
We performed a prospective cross-sectional study of 4,217 women aged 21 to 89 years presenting to our facilities for screening mammogram between December 2010 and October 2011. This HIPAA-compliant study was approved by our institutional review board. We collected data on patients’ interest in and actual donation of a biospecimen, motivators and barriers to donating, demographic information, and personal breast cancer risk factors. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to identify patient-level characteristics associated with an increased likelihood to donate.
Mean patient age was 57.8 years (SD 11.1 years). While 66.0% (2785/4217) of patients were willing to donate blood or saliva during their visit, only 56.4% (2378/4217) actually donated. Women with a college education (OR=1.27, p=0.003), older age (OR=1.02, p<0.001), previous breast biopsy (OR=1.23, p=0.012), family history of breast cancer (OR=1.23, p=0.004), or a comorbidity (OR=1.22, p=0.014) were more likely to donate. Asian-American women were significantly less likely to donate (OR=0.74, p=0.005). The major reason for donating was to help all future patients (42.3%) and the major reason for declining donation was privacy concerns (22.3%).
A large proportion of women participating in a breast cancer screening registry are willing to donate blood or saliva to a biobank. Among minority participants, Asian-American women are less likely to donate and further qualitative research is required to identify novel active recruitment strategies to ensure their involvement.
biospecimen; biobank; breast cancer; screening; patient willingness
The purpose of this paper is to describe community consultation and communication efforts for the Personalized Medicine Research Project (PMRP), a population-based biobank. A series of focus group discussions was held in the year preceding initial recruitment efforts with potentially eligible community residents and slightly less than a year after initial recruitment with eligible residents who had declined participation in PMRP. A Community Advisory Group, with 19 members reflecting the demographics of the eligible community, was formed and meets twice yearly to provide advice and feedback to the PMRP Principal Investigator and the local IRB. Ongoing communication with study subjects, who consent on the condition that personal genetic results will not be disclosed, takes place through a newsletter that is distributed twice yearly, community talks and media coverage. Most focus group participants were concerned about the confidentiality of both their medical and genetic data. Focus group discussions with eligible residents who elected not to participate in PMRP revealed that many knew very little about the project, but thought that too much information had been provided, leading them to believe that it would take too long for them to understand and enroll in the study. In conclusion, an engaged community advisory group can provide a sounding board to study investigators for many study issues and can provide guidance for broader communication activities. Researchers need to balance the provision of information for potential subjects to make informed decisions about study participation, with respect for individuals’ time to read and interpret study materials.
Genetics; consumer participation; ethics consultation
There is an increasing need for establishment of biobanks for human cancer, which may facilitate basic and clinical researches as well as the development of novel approaches to early diagnostics, prevention and treatment, including personalized medicine. Herein we report the establishment of a lung cancer biobanks using biological samples from a lung cancer patient population in Southern China. Since 2007, we have collected lung cancer tissue from 1,054 patients with lung cancer, from whom 11,895 frozen tumor and normal matched tissues, 4,899 tissue paraffin blocks, and 3,562 blood serum samples were accumulated. The information on clinical manifestations, laboratory tests, and follow-up was maintained by an independent information management system, including three data sets. The primary data set included frozen tissue specimens, formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues, blood specimens and clinical and long-term follow-up data. The secondary data set included DNA, RNA and proteins extracted from corresponding tissue specimens. And the tertiary data set contained improved genome, RNA and proteomics correlation analysis with relevant clinical and long-term follow-up data. The lung cancer biobanks is accessible to academic research and public services. To our best knowledge, this biobanks represents the first lung cancer tissue reservoir in China and should facilitate the basic and clinical research of this disease and developing diagnostic markers and novel therapeutic modalities.
lung cancer; biobanks; tissue bank; southern Chinese population
Effective translational biomedical research hinges on the operation of 'biobanks,' repositories that assemble, store, and manage collections of human specimens and related data. Some are established intentionally to address particular research needs; many, however, have arisen opportunistically, in a variety of settings and with a variety of expectations regarding their functions and longevity. Despite their rising prominence, little is known about how biobanks are organized and function beyond simple classification systems (government, academia, industry).
In 2012, we conducted the first national survey of biobanks in the U.S., collecting information on their origins, specimen collections, organizational structures, and market contexts and sustainability. From a list of 636 biobanks assembled through a multi-faceted search strategy, representatives from 456 U.S. biobanks were successfully recruited for a 30-minute online survey (72% response rate). Both closed and open-ended responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
While nearly two-thirds of biobanks were established within the last decade, 17% have been in existence for over 20 years. Fifty-three percent listed research on a particular disease as the most important reason for establishment; 29% listed research generally. Other reasons included response to a grant or gift, and intent to centralize, integrate, or harmonize existing research structures. Biobank collections are extraordinarily diverse in number and types of specimens and in sources (often multiple) from which they are obtained, including from individuals, clinics or hospitals, public health programs, and research studies. Forty-four percent of biobanks store pediatric specimens, and 36% include postmortem specimens. Most biobanks are affiliated in one or multiple ways with other entities: 88% are part of at least one or more larger organizations (67% of these are academic, 23% hospitals, 13% research institutes). The majority of biobanks seem to fill a particular 'niche' within a larger organization or research area; a minority are concerned about competition for services, although many are worried about underutilization of specimens and long-term funding.
Effective utilization of biobank collections and effective policies to govern their use will require understanding of the immense diversity found in organizational features, including the very different history and primary goals that many biobanks have.
Biobank; biorepository; governance; survey
Objectives To estimate how many people object to storage of biological samples collected in health care in Sweden and to their use in research and how many withdraw previous consent.
Design Cross sectional study of register data.
Setting Biobanks used in Swedish health care, 2005-6.
Population Data on refusal to consent were obtained for 1.4 million biobank samples per year from 20 of 21 counties.
Main outcome measures Rates of preliminary refusal to consent, confirmed refusal, and withdrawal of consent.
Results Patients refused consent to either storage or use of their samples in about 1 in 690 cases; about 1 in 1600 confirmed their decision by completing a dissent form. Rather than having the samples destroyed, about 1 in 6200 patients wanted to restrict their use. Of those who had previously consented, about 1 in 19 000 withdrew their consent.
Conclusions Refusal to consent to biobank research in Sweden is rare, and the interests of individuals and research interests need not be at odds. The Swedish healthcare organisation is currently obliged to obtain either consent or refusal to each potential use of each sample taken, and lack of consent to research is used as the default position. A system of presumed consent with straightforward opt out would correspond with people’s attitudes, as expressed in their actions, towards biobank research.
Biobanks and archived datasets collecting samples and data have become crucial engines of genetic and genomic research. Unresolved, however, is what responsibilities biobanks should shoulder to manage incidental findings (IFs) and individual research results (IRRs) of potential health, reproductive, or personal importance to individual contributors (using “biobank” here to refer to both collections of samples and collections of data). This paper reports recommendations from a 2-year, NIH-funded project. The authors analyze responsibilities to manage return of IFs and IRRs in a biobank research system (primary research or collection sites, the biobank itself, and secondary research sites). They suggest that biobanks shoulder significant responsibility for seeing that the biobank research system addresses the return question explicitly. When re-identification of individual contributors is possible, the biobank should work to enable the biobank research system to discharge four core responsibilities: to (1) clarify the criteria for evaluating findings and roster of returnable findings, (2) analyze a particular finding in relation to this, (3) re-identify the individual contributor, and (4) recontact the contributor to offer the finding. The authors suggest that findings that are analytically valid, reveal an established and substantial risk of a serious health condition, and that are clinically actionable should generally be offered to consenting contributors. The paper specifies 10 concrete recommendations, addressing new biobanks and biobanks already in existence.
incidental findings; return of results; biobanks; research ethics; bioethics; genetics; genomics