“Biobanking is essential for the evolution of personalized medicine, which has become a major focus for clinical research,” said Kathi Shea, biobank business lead, Brooks Life Sciences, which recently announced plans to build a new 21,000-square-foot biorepository in collaboration with Cleveland Clinic.
Biobanking is critical to enabling genomics, proteomics, and immune modulation – advances in which will drive the development of targeted diagnostic and therapeutic products to improve clinical outcomes for patients, Shea told us.
Biobanks contain specimens used across the research and development pipeline to study the cause of disease, identify biomarkers, develop new diagnostic assays, and create new therapies.
Shea explained: “Cell and gene therapy products require the same type of infrastructure required for samples in biobanks, which is complete traceability of each unit produced back to an individual, as well as ultracold storage and logistics management.”
As such, demand for biobanking has increased by double digits over the last ten years, Shea said, adding that demand will continue to grow as the industry intensities its focus on personalized medicine.
“The need for quality biospecimens that can be used to support research will continue to increase and, in fact, having appropriate biospecimens available is thought to be one of the primary barriers by researchers today,” she explained.
The challenge follows the need to preserve the biological properties of biospecimens to ensure biomarkers “are representative of the differences between the people from which the biospecimens originated instead of the pre-analytical variation introduced during collection, processing, transport, and storage.”
Shea said biobanks provide standard operating procedures and processes to minimize the effect of pre-analytical variables. “They also specify systems to annotate these pre-analytical variables that can be taken into consideration when analyzing results,” she added.
“Another thing to consider is the biomarkers we are trying to measure today tend to be more labile than the ones we have used in the past,” Shea added, noting that “the more labile the analyte, the more important it is to gain consistency in pre-analytical processes.”
Cleveland Clinic collaboration
Brooks Automation and Cleveland Clinic are launching a 21,000-square-foot biorepository in Cleveland, Ohio’s Fairfax neighborhood. Shea said the new two-story biobanking facility will increase Cleveland Clinic’s capacity to “analyze patient samples, advance medical research, and enhance clinical care.”
“Services will include sample preservation and storage – with a processing laboratory under consideration,” she explained, adding that the ability to consolidate all samples is “another significant benefit of the new facility.”
The biorepository also will expand Cleveland Clinic’s capacity to study tissue and “accelerate translational research through a streamlined patient consent processes and centralized storage,” Shea said.
Brooks Life Sciences – a division of Brooks Automation providing sample management solutions – will manage the onsite operations at the new facility, which is expected to be completed in summer 2019.
Beyond the “benefit for personalized medicine,” Shea said the partnership between Brooks Life Sciences and the Cleveland Clinic will create jobs in the areas of inventory management, sample management, and lab processing services. “It will also boost economic development for Cleveland, OH and solidify a research presence in the city for years to come,” she added.