Biobanks infrastructure


Research in oncology particularly for Precision medicine requires access to biological samples of proper quality for studies which employ latest technologies, such as Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). The goal of the biobanks infrastructure is the recording of the existing biobanks, which consist of a number of patient groups with fully defined clinical characteristics, as well as the homogenization of their operational procedures.

Main activities

Simultaneously, the number of samples and the available data that accompany them should adequately cover the broad spectrum of sub-entities emerging in malignant neoplasm diseases in reference with precision medicine; these are constantly growing and differentiating, thus offering more and more areas of study for the application of both the available targeted therapies and those that are being developed at a rapid pace.

Addressing this demand, samples and data from different biobanks in in the global world must be suitable for integrated studies that will include the full range of omics technologies. Such a requirement has introduced a new dimension of complexity in biomedical research, because samples and data have to meet international quality standards as a pre-requisite for integrated analysis and deeper studies. Therefore, international standards (e.g. CEN Technical Specifications or ISO Standards) have to be implemented for sample pre-analytics, covering all steps starting from the collection of samples from patients to the separation of biomolecules for analysis. Quality in uncertain biospecimen is not only a roadblock to progress in research, but is also misleading for major financial loss in R&D, due to lack of reproducibility of analytical data. Since variations in analytical results cannot be corrected even with the most modern techniques, the errors and failures caused in pre-analytical or analytical phases cannot be easily distinguished from individual features of the specific malignant neoplasm disease.

Additionally, the operating regulations of modern biobanks must guarantee both the management of the high-quality samples, as well as the compliance with ethical, legal and societal requirements, while allowing transparent and effective procedures for access to samples and data. In the context of the Hellenic National Precision Medicine Network, the 1st Department of Pathology of the Medical School is going to implement the “Biobanks” sub-project, which possesses the largest collection of paraffin embedded tissues in Greece, from a variety of malignant neoplasms, will closely cooperate with the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (BRFAA), which is the central hub of the Greek Biobanks, all of which together form the BBMRI-GR network – an official member of the BBMRI-ERIC Pan-European Biobanks Infrastructure.

The scope and planned activities of the biobanks infrastructure are the following:

  • Recording of existing biobanks in Greece and their function.
  • Organization of biobanks consisting of specimens from cohorts of patients with particular types of malignant neoplasms with available clinical information.
  • Harmonization of best practices with regard to biobanks function.
  • Staff training of participating centers in best practices.
  • completion or upgrading of existing equipment of first Department of Pathology of Athens University School of Medicine.
  • Implementation of a laboratory information management system, which is compatible with minimum information about data system (MIABIS). This task represents a joint activity with Crete PMU and Central Macedonia PMU.