News

August 7, 2014

BioCision and Brooks Automation Discuss the Future of Biorepositories

In a recent news article in Drug Discovery and Development, temperature standardization gurus Dr. Rolf Ehrhardt and Dr. Stephen Schwartz share their thoughts on how standardizing operating procedures will make or break the future of biorepositories. [1]

Biobanking and biorepository management are a fast-growing industry, predicted by leading market research companies to represent a $183 billion dollar market worldwide by 2015. It is not, however, an industry without growing pains. Brooks Automation CEO Dr. Stephen Schwartz relates the woeful tale of the Cancer Genome Atlas pilot project to drive home his point.

The Cancer Genome Atlas pilot project was one of the first major collaborative efforts to come out of the Human Genome Project, which was completed in 2003. The goal was to collect and analyze 1,500 tumor samples obtained from biorepositories across the country, then use the genetic data contained therein to develop novel cancer treatments.

It was a laudable goal. Unfortunately, not long after its inauguration, the Cancer Genome Atlas Project was called to a halt. The problem wasn’t the science involved, but rather the fact that the vast majority of the samples the project received contained DNA that was simply too degraded to sequence adequately.

The event served as a wake-up call to many industry leaders. It was clear there was a need to develop more rigorous sample handling, collection, and storage protocols. Dr. Schwartz asserts “Standardization and consistency is an industry driver. And the reason for that is it’s critical to the end results.” Dr. Rolf Ehrhardt, president and CEO of BioCision, agrees: “There’s a big need for making pre-analytical sample handling more reproducible and more standardized. If you don’t standardize sample handling, you end up comparing apples and oranges.”

He goes on to discuss cold chain management, a key aspect of biospecimen quality. It’s well known in the biobanking field that the temperature during sample collection, the method and rate of freezing, and the temperature during storage and transport, can all affect a biospecimen’s integrity. “What happens when you thaw cells for research or cell therapy?” asks Dr. Ehrhardt. “There are a lot of different methods out there, from thawing cryopreserved cells in a water bath at different temperatures, under your arms, in your hands or letting them sit on the bench. It really is asking for standardization.”

Biorepository-driven research is only as good as the quality of the sample. “It’s important that we start working like other parts of the industry with standardized operating procedures,” concludes Ehrhardt.

For full article read here.

Reference:

[1] Rozik L. Biorepository management today. Drug Discovery and Development. July 2014.