Biobanking perspective on challenges in sample handling, collection, processing, storage, analysis and retrieval for genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics data
Increased demand for personalized medicine has enhanced requirements for biobanks to provide tissue, body fluids, and their derivatives. Two types of biobanks exist: those who primarily support health care, and those who support clinical research. There are significant and philosophical issues that are restricting biobanking research activities, which must be solved for continued viability of these repositories. The -omics era, with its increased high throughput technologies and increased requirement for analytical capacity, through access to large study cohorts, has increased the need for high quality biospecimens. There are several issues related to quality, capacity, ethical frameworks, sustainability and access to biospecimens that influence sample availability for biobanking activities. Two approaches have been implemented to address bottlenecks: the traditional top-down approach, employed in most countries, of creating networks of regional and national biobanks that enhance standardization and research access to biospecimens, and the bottom-up approach, employed in North America, which focuses on connecting donors and biobanks effectively through implementing a flexible paradigm of donor's consent. Numerous clinical and nonclinical variables affect collecting samples during surgery, pathology and the biobanking. Elapsed time from surgical excision of specimen to its cryopreservation (or other preservation method) is crucial to control for sample quality. In biomarker studies, several phases of sample collection, transportation, handling and storage must follow standardized protocols in order to have confidence in generated data, and repeatability of results from one research laboratory into another. Establishing standard procedures is also a must for control of pre-analytical variation and/or bias in biobanked specimens.