Modern biobanks contribute decisively to the development of innovative diagnostic methods and therapies for the treatment of patients. Hence they are also indispensable to biomedical research. According to the motto of “Fit for purpose”, around 300 biobank experts met in Berlin on 11–12 December 2018 for the 7th National Biobank Symposium. Together they discussed technologies, procedures and trends in biobanking. The industry meet of the German biobanking scene is organised jointly by TMF and the German Biobank Node (GBN).
Prof. Dr. Michael Hummel (National Coordinator, German Biobank Node) opened the event with the words: “Biobanks must address the challenges of personalised medicine, and support new technologies and innovative procedures for research and health care with their work.” New methods such as single-cell sequencing and organoid model mechanisms like those being tested in leading oncological or cardiological research make high demands of biobanks in terms of the quality standards, staff expertise and data documentation. Under the umbrella of TMF and GBN, German biobanks are working together to develop standards and solutions to meet these requirements.
Digitalisation of biobanks continues
The digitalisation of biobanking is an important milestone: only when the biobanks’ IT infrastructure has been networked will a comprehensive search for samples and related data be possible. This will in turn greatly accelerate biomedical research. A preliminary version of the federated search tool developed by GBN is already available.
First ISO standard for biobanking published
The ISO 20387 standard published in August 2018 has set new standards in quality management. It is the first ISO standard specifically for biobanking. Experts agree that the standard will also greatly facilitate international comparisons within quality management.
Linking of samples with data from patient care
The linking of samples with data from patient care yields extensive opportunities. All university hospitals in Germany have joined forces within the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) to process and harmonise the data from medical documentation in health care in particular and to make this available. The initiative is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with 150 million euros. Close cooperation is planned between MII and GBN, which will establish the conditions for linking samples and data. “As digitalisation progresses, biosamples and data can finally be used together. We are consistently pursuing this goal as part of the Medical Informatics Initiative,” Sebastian Claudius Semler (Executive Director, TMF) explained at the symposium. “The standardisation of data structures and analysis procedures within the Medical Informatics Initiative contributes decisively to quality assurance in the treatment of patients in the context of personalised medicine.