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Is “Controlling Pre-analytical Variability” an Elusive Target in Biobanking Urine Samples?

The wealth of information in urine samples makes this material critical for research, and for biobanking. The value of this humble waste product is evident from the fact that it is the third most-tested sample in diagnostic laboratories, after serum/plasma profiles and complete blood cell (CBC) counts. However, researchers collecting urine samples for storage and downstream analysis face the same issues as diagnostic laboratories—determining how reliable a test result can be, given the difficulty in controlling  pre-analytical variability.

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Topic: Clinical Tria..........

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..........

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..........

Researchers Learn How to Turn Cancer Cells into Macrophages

Sometimes we set out in search of one thing, and end up finding something entirely different. This was the case for a group of Stanford scientists who were looking for ways to prevent cancer cells from dying during experiments, but then discovered that it is possible to force leukemia cells to mature into macrophages.

Published in the March 2015 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this discovery came as a chance observation in a Stanford University of Medicine laboratory.

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Topic: Cell Therapy ..........

Whole Blood Basics: How to maintain a stable sample

Like any other fluid or tissue sample, whole blood can be most effectively analyzed when its integrity is maintained throughout collection, processing and storage. But how do you maintain the quality of a whole blood sample when considering long term storage? What happens when a sample is not handled properly?

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

Emerging Trends in Biosample-based Research: Mobile Technologies, Citizen Science, and Crowd-Sourcing Studies

The cost of conducting large cohort studies has become prohibitive, yet cohort studies are critical for research into biomarkers, diagnostics, and new therapeutics. Is the technology to collect the data needed for this research already available, but we simply haven’t developed a process to put it to use?

Mobile technology has already had a great influence on data collection and analysis in such fields as astronomy, climate, history, and archaeology, as well as biology—WildLab, iNaturalist.org and Project Noah all use iPhone apps to track wildlife and related phenomena. Closer to home, “citizen scientists,” empowered by “crowdsourcing” (web-based recruitment), health data sharing platforms, and mobile technology, are already changing medical research. (Cloud-based cohort study design pioneer Dr. James Lacey has also recently publish an eBook on this topic on our blog). 

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

Sample Fidelity: Authenticate Your Cell Lines, Protect Your Research

In July, 2007 Dr. Roland Nardone, Professor Emeritus of the Discovery Center for Cell and Molecular Biology of the Catholic University of America, and 18 of his colleagues penned a powerful letter regarding the topic of misidentification and cross-contamination of cell lines to Michael O. Leavitt, then Secretary of Health and Human Services. The 18 researchers who added their signatures to the letter represented both extensive experience in cell culture and a cross-sample of governmental, corporate, and academic institutions in the US and the UK. In his letter, Nardone informed Secretary Levitt of the extent of misidentification of cell lines being distributed amongst scientists and warned of the “resulting corruption of biomedical research” and “grave public health consequences.” He urged both an educational initiative about misidentified call lines and a specific mechanism by funding agencies to ensure the authentication of cell lines: no authentication, no funding.

Topic: Laboratory Processing

Know Your Samples – How Resilient are your Biomarkers?

biobanking samples

For all types of biomarker research, whether academic studies or clinical trials, the target analytes within your samples are the most important elements to safeguard. No matter if it’s as simple as the pH of a serum sample or as specific as the quaternary structure of a protein complex, any biomarker can be affected and potentially compromised by a number of external factors, most easily temperature.

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Content: Blog

Minimizing Your Sample Freeze/Thaw Cycle to Maintain Sample Integrity

Laboratory_Processing_Digram_to_Aliquot_or_NotIn designing clinical studies, much thought is given to controlling for clinical and demographic variability. For example, a well-designed study will carefully enroll patients of a particular disease type, stage, and treatment regimen. In addition, for each of these variables there will be determinations made as to how many patients of what age, sex, and ethnicity should be included in each of the clinical groups. By carefully considering the sample size needed for each variable, clinicians target specific and meaningful data when analyzing the results.

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Content: Blog

[Video] The Journey of a Sample... in the Biobank Laboratory

So much depends on the subtle variations in biospecimens: these variations, when analyzed via genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and similar studies, are the foundation of both disease-based and drug-based biomarker discovery. And if the unique "-omics" of a sample is to yield results that lead to improvements in medical research and healthcare, such as understanding disease cause/progression (predictive/prognostic biomarker) to PK/PD in clinical trials (surrogate endpoints), then the entire integrity of the specimen must be protected, or biomarker research/study can go astray. 

Content: Video, Topic: Laboratory Processing

National Children's Study Shows Why Biobanking Automation Pays Off

National Children's Study

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

Got Enough DNA?

With funding the way it is today, long gone is the era of producing unlimited DNA from study participants' cell lines.  Many study coordinators are faced with the challenge of how to manage the limited amount of DNA collected from participants during a clinical trial.  Through years of working with many clients involved in clinical trials and cohort studies, I've summarized some of the important considerations that can help you manage this invaluable resource. 

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Content: Blog