Outbreaks of infectious diseases are occurring with increasing frequency and unpredictability. The rapid development and deployment of diagnostics that can accurately and quickly identify pathogens as part of epidemic preparedness is needed now for the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO has developed a global research and innovation forum to facilitate, accelerate, and deepen research collaboration among countries and funders. Great progress has been made in the past decade, but access to specimens remains a major barrier for the development and evaluation of needed quality diagnostics.
This study describes the efforts and outcomes associated with the establishment of a clinical sample repository during the 2016 Zika virus epidemic. To overcome the challenge of limited access to clinical samples to support diagnostic test development, multiple US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies formed a partnership to create the HHS Zika Specimen Repository.
Biobanks1 are well-organized repositories of biological material. They have become the fundamental resource for advancing medical research and constitute a major component of more generally understood bioresources. Yet they face a number of challenges to become more utilized on the national and global scale. These challenges range from fragmentation of data structure and sometimes even lack of availability of data,2–4 lack of consistent quality management and traceability5–8 to fragmentation of privacy protection regulations9–13 and technical, organizational, and legal aspects of scalable secure storage and processing of privacy-sensitive big data.14–16 To address the fragmentation and findability aspects, BBMRI-ERIC has released its Directory as a first IT service, providing aggregate information about the biobanks and bioresources. The Directory features a novel scalable distributed architecture, which enables updating data about changing resources in a long-term sustainable manner.
The review explores the field of biobanking as it has evolved from a simple collection of frozen specimens to the virtual biobank. Biorepository and biospecimen science has evolved in response to the changing landscape of external regulatory pressures, the advances made in the biological sciences, and the advent of the computer chip. Biospecimen banking is a growing enterprise crucial to health science research and other biological sciences. In this review we discuss the history of biobanking, highlight current and emerging issues, discuss demands and responses, and describe an example of a biobank, the University of California, San Francisco AIDS Specimen Bank that has functioned for 30 years.
Biobanks and biobanking networks are involved in varying degrees in the collection, processing, storage, and dissemination of biological specimens. This review outlines the approaches that 16 of the largest biobanks and biobanking networks in Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia have taken to collecting and distributing human research specimens and managing scientific initiatives while covering operating costs.