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Researchers Propose a Validated Phenotyping Algorithm for Genetic Association Studies in Age-related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among people aged 50 and older. This multifactorial neurodegenerative disease damages the macula, responsible for sharp central vision. Rapid advancement of DNA sequencing technologies has allowed researchers to identify many AMD-associated genetic polymorphisms. However, phenotyping and patient recruitment are currently the most time-consuming steps facing researchers performing this work. Patient identification and DNA collection are often the rate-limiting steps in genetic association studies.

Facilitated by the rapid growth of electronic medical record (EMR)-linked DNA biorepositories, patient selection algorithms can improve efficiency in genetic association studies.

In this blog, we'll discuss a new study, published in Nature, where researchers show that using stepwise validation of such an algorithm could provide reliable cohort selection outcomes and, when networked with an EMR-linked DNA biorepository, replicate previously published AMD-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Clinic..........

Eliminating Public Health Threats: How scalable is your vaccine distribution strategy?

In the last two years, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sent scientists and doctors into the field over 750 times to respond to health threats. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Ebola, and Avian flu are just a few of the diseases that have recently infiltrated large populations and required a global response to mitigate the risk.  

In the event that there is a widespread public health outbreak, it's the responsibility of various government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DoD) and CDC, and commercial entities to sponsor research that will protect populations; ranging from the warfighter to the general public. Oftentimes these collaborations between government and industry facilitate vaccine development and distribution so that when an emergency arises they are prepared and can respond quickly.

In this blog we'll discuss three considerations when carrying out a large-scale vaccine distribution operation and the importance of a qualified deployment strategy.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Clinic..........

Explore the Virtual Biobank

Sample integrity is essential to the success of every biobanking project. So is the ability to easily share information designed to accelerate lifesaving discoveries. Various types of unwanted pre-analytical variables can be introduced at numerous points in the life of a sample, beginning at the time it is collected from the donor, through shipping, receiving/inventory, laboratory processing, during storage and subsequent retrieval for analysis.

On the Thermo Scientific's biobanking community we recently introduced a virtual biobank which allows users to explore critical points in the biobank workflow from collection through distribution. This tool offers a hands-on way to gain a better understanding of each aspect of the workflow, and ultimately conveys the importance of a valued partner that can preserve your samples, track your inventory, streamline your productivity, and help you meet laboratory challenges.

This blog discusses some fun facts about biobanking as well as additional information about each step in the workflow. Let's explore the virtual biobank!

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Clinic..........

Introducing InsideAccess: An Insider's Look at Making the Most of Near Misses

In the fast paced environment that we work in it's common to follow a well-rehearsed routine and stick to it. However, when handling valuable samples, this cannot be the case. Continuous process improvement is at the core of our business and a value that we work towards diligently. Oftentimes, these process improvement projects occur behind the scenes, but prove to have the most outstanding results for our clients. Thus, we're introducing a new series called InsideAccess. This new content will give you an inside look into our operations and processes to showcase the work that we're doing internally to ensure our external operations run smoothly.

In this first InsideAccess, Nick Fera, Operations Manager, and Mahzad Mehrinfar, Project Director, share their process for capturing and learning from near misses. Below is a short introduction to how their team faced a large challenge and developed a solution, which resulted in an exceptional level of accuracy in fulfilling orders for shipment.  

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Content: Insi..........

Two and a Half Degrees of Separation: Clinical Trial Finds Moderate Cooling Improves Transplant Results

This is not about a chain of six acquaintances that (in theory) connect all the inhabitants of the world, but rather how a very small reduction in temperature can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of an organ transplant. A recently published clinical trial1 found that establishing mild hypothermia in an organ donor resulted in a significant benefit to recipients of transplanted kidneys! So here is a question to consider: if 2.5°C has a significant effect on outcomes in living patients, what effect may it have on biospecimen-based research?

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Clinic..........

Innovation in Biobanking: Pushing the Boundaries

Though biobanking has been a unique niche for many years, a 2009 article by Time Magazine helped solidify its importance as one of the 10 Ideas Changing the World. For librarians of specimens, also known as biorepository technicians, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and work instructions provide necessary order and structure, but oftentimes make daily activities a bit routine. In some instances this can diminish the spark that’s necessary to push boundaries and insert innovation. 

As the Assistant Project Director of a busy central biorepository where 1.4 million transactions occur annually, I believe that innovation is of critical importance to the wide variety of tasks involved in a biobanking environment, ranging from shipping and receiving, to laboratory processing and data analysis. In this blog I’d like to discuss how to create a culture of innovation and some boundary-pushing ideas that have improved our daily processes.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Clinic..........

Personnel Safety When Cryopreserving Biological Material

To maintain biological integrity and prevent sample degradation, biosamples can be cryopreserved. Since this requires very low temperatures, the correct preparation of these biospecimens for cryopreservation is critical; particularly when the samples are intended for use in downstream analysis such as immunological assays for detecting cell surface markers.

In our previous blog, 5 Factors to Consider When Storing Samples at Low Temperatures, we identified various procedures including proper handling, preparation, freezing, retrieval, and thawing measures that must be followed when cryopreserving samples to maintain cell viability. However, while following process to maintain sample integrity is an integral part of cryopreservation, there are also specific safety requirements that must be followed.

A recent blog by Inside Biobanking, addressed some of the hazards associated with biological material management at cryogenic temperatures. In this blog, let's explore how staff and biobank managers can ensure personnel safety by following these safety guidelines.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Cold-C..........

Liquid Biopsies Used in Personalized Medicine Represent Disruptive Innovation

Time magazine considers liquid biopsies one of the top five investment opportunities of 2015. Investors considering new developments in healthcare like ideas that have the potential to change existing treatment protocols or dramatically impact an entire industry segment. These investors look for “disruptive innovation” or “impact investing” and many are actively engaged in helping bring the new personalized medicine break-through technology to market.

The liquid biopsy is one example of a relatively new idea that has the potential to change the life sciences industry and further scientific discovery. 

In this blog, let's explore the potential benefits of liquid biopsies as a minimally invasive methodology. We'll also consider the challenges associated with the technology and explore how it may impact treatment protocols and strategies.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........

[Video] Understanding Risk: How to Manage High Value Biologics Part 2

In part one of this video series, I discussed the importance of risk management and some things to consider when entrusting external parties with your valued samples. For part two, let's explore some additional factors to include in your risk threat assessment and ways to not only protect your samples, but also protect your data!  

Content: Video, Topic: Biobanking and Biorepositor..........

Amazing Samples: Spit, Spat, Sputum

The word “phlegm” itself dates back to the ancient Greek humoralist theory of medicine. At the time, it was believed that just as all matter was made up of combinations of the four elements, so were all body parts made up of specific mixes humors: the heart was primarily blood and air, the liver yellow bile (kholé) and fire, the spleen black bile (melaina kholé) and earth, and the brain was phlegm and water. Many health conditions were attributed to an imbalance of the humors, both physiological and psychological, and such words have remained in the English language since, such as cholera (yellow bile) and melancholy (black bile), and sanguine or phlegmatic personalities.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Clinic..........

[Video] Understanding Risk: How to Manage High Value Biologics Part 1

One of the things that I've learned that is very important to our clients and to our own organization is risk management. The management of risk is part of all business operations; however to those in the biotech industry that are manufacturing cell based therapies, risk mitigation is of utmost importance. The costly nature of your irreplaceable samples, valuable cell lines, and other high value product such as cell-based drugs, biologic active pharmaceutical ingredient (bio-API), dictates you and I to plan for the full continuum of risk. In this two-part video series, I'd like to share with you some of the questions you may ask yourself, or those you consider entrusting with your valued samples.

Content: Video, Topic: Biobanking and Biorepositor..........

Curing Crohn's Disease: How Data and the Gut Microbiota Proteome Are Working Together

As previously discussed on Thermo Fisher Scientific's Accelerating Proteomic's blog, research into the debilitating inflammatory bowel condition called Crohn’s disease has identified the gut bacterial community as a key factor in the disease’s pathogenesis and continuation. Despite this, there is still no reliable clinical biomarker to speed investigation, monitoring and diagnosis for patients. Because the symptoms of Crohn’s disease are not unique and are shared among many inflammatory bowel diseases, diagnosis frequently requires many different and invasive clinical tests.

In this blog, let's explore how Juste et al. (2014) used the gut microbiota as a starting point in their study exploring the intestinal microbiome for prospective biomarkers1 and how a new platform established by The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) may help speed the process towards a potential cure to this disease.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........