Biobanking in South Africa

Biobanking in South Africa

What is biobanking

A biobank is a collection of biological samples that are preserved for future scientific research. Biobanking has been gaining popularity in recent years as a way to store and share resources for research purposes. Time magazine even listed the concept of Biobanking as one of the “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now” back in 2009.

Biological samples hold a wealth of potential information that could be used to elevate future research. Biobanks have the ability to collect and store these samples, making them a valuable resource for scientists. By extracting data from these samples, we can gain a greater understanding of the workings of the human body and potentially find new ways to treat diseases.

Biobanks are essential for scientific progress in this age of rapidly developing techniques and discoveries. We now know that biobanking is not just a way to store biological samples, but a vital tool for preserving biological data through proper logistical management and legislation.

The requirements for successful biobanking

Biological information can be accessed on-demand through biobanks, which serve as long-term storage libraries for large-scale data. The Mayo Clinic, located in Minnesota, was an early adopter of this concept and manages one of the largest patient biobanks in the US.

1. Planning Your Biobank

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Before starting a new biobank collection, it is essential to have a plan in place!

The goals and objectives of the researchers must be clearly defined in order to move forward with this plan. In addition, protocols for sample collection and processing must be put into place. Storage requirements such as size and conditions must also be determined, as well as the long-term monitoring requirements of the biobank.

2. creation of standard operating procedures

The success of any scientific endeavour depends on the implementation of strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). By ensuring that all steps in the research process are consistent and repeatable, researchers can be confident in the reliability and accuracy of their results. Before samples arrive at the biobank, it is crucial that those responsible for collecting and processing them take steps to minimise variability. This will help to ensure that the data generated by the biobank is of the highest quality

The biobank is responsible for establishing procedures for handling specimens, processing and receiving specimens, and managing records. Other responsibilities include maintaining equipment, monitoring the facility, and ensuring security.

3. Biobank staff training

By training your employees on your inventory and sale processes, you can better retain employees. Not only that, but by regularly training your staff on your inventory and sales process, you can address any issues that need addressing at the source. In addition to sending your staff through online training courses, consider sending them through in-person workshops to provide a more hands-on approach to learning.

4. Laboratory Information Management Systems

A biobank’s sample integrity relies on the ongoing, day-to-day activities of the lab. A good laboratory information management system (LIMS) helps, by tracking and managing all aspects of the sample. A LIMS helps researchers keep tabs on the samples, whether they’re stored, handled, or transferred — helping to ensure that no mistakes are made in the process.

 5. Post-collection processing

Depending on the nature of the biological samples, post-collection processing may be required in preparation for long-term storage.

Post-collection processing should be well-defined in the pre-established SOPs and should be included in the LIMS as part of maintaining the integrity of each sample.

6. Disaster preparedness

Disaster preparedness is one of the most important aspects of a biobank. Biotechnology products are usually valuable and irreplaceable, which means that ensuring their safekeeping is of tantamount importance. While there’s no way to be completely certain that a disaster will never occur, a biobank can prepare by storing all records in disaster-proof locations — ideally, off-site.

Biobanking in South Africa: unique challenges and prospects

Hospitals are already doing this.

In 2012, Johns Hopkins Hospital created a Disaster Plan to account for such disasters as natural disasters and security breaches. The hospital designated a team of disaster responders and was prepared to handle any crises that struck in the middle of the night- even if it meant maintaining contact with responders through electronic devices when phone lines went down.

Even domestic biobanks need to be prepared for potential disasters.

South Africa’s an interesting place to do research — it’s got one of the highest disease burdens in the world, including HIV, TB, and metabolic syndrome. But it’s also got one of the most unstable energy grids in the world. The government’s working on new systems for renewable energy, but in the meantime, disease researchers have to deal with periodic (and growing) rolling blackouts.

Why consider biobanking for your samples?

Biobanking is a service that allows laboratories to store biological samples so that they can be accessed later for future experiments. With a well-developed biobanking system, your business might soon enjoy the following benefits:

What are biobanks?

Biobanks are storage facilities with completely automated processes. That means your lab will get access to all the tools it needs for sample management in one place — from sample collection to long-term storage.

1. Completely controlled

As a researcher, too much of my focus is on DNA sequencing rather than the downstream analysis and applications. I don’t have time to spend hours creating and training a machine learning model to predict induced pluripotent stem cells, which are particularly difficult to make at scale.

2. Freeing up space

PatientsBank has collected my samples and data, and they use their powerful platform to build these models for me.

3. Time-saving

Biobanks are a perfect fit for universities, hospitals or other institutions looking to save time and money. As samples are being prepared, trained staff can be focused on other tasks — freeing up extra time for these institutions to invest into new research projects. Biobanks make it easier for new research questions to be answered by providing access to existing samples that can be used as the foundation for future research.

4. Peace Of Mind

While the benefits listed above are compelling, there is little that compares with the peace of mind that biobanking can provide. With biobanks, you can protect your samples while they’re being used by researchers, to ensure that your hard work isn’t lost but rather preserved in a pristine state. You can also avoid the risk associated with storing or preserving your samples yourself and have access to expert advice and oversight as required.

For research facilities and medical labs, the pressure to store samples for extended periods of time can be immense. With LabSPACE South Africa, lab managers have a way of outsourcing their sample storage needs — with a solution that’s not just cost-effective and efficient, but also safe and secure.

Biobanking with LabSPACE AFRICA

Long-term storage is tricky — it demands a combination of a clean, safe facility and the appropriate equipment. Luckily, your solution is right here, with Beyond Wireless. Our cutting-edge lab maintains an ideal temperature and humidity to protect your samples because we know that every storage environment is different. With our cloud-based LIMS, you’re always in control.

When you are ready for long-term peace of mind regarding your sample storage needs, please contact us for a tailor-made storage plan, managed by our expertly trained team.

We look forward to protecting your future!

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