Sample integrity is crucial during biobanking inventory and transfer.
Biobanks play an important role in enabling researchers to develop therapies for chronic diseases.
Research institutions, hospitals and
pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies
have turned to biobanks as a key tool in
the research of new treatments and the
identification of disease biomarkers from
the large cohorts of patients through the
collection, storage, inventory, characterization
and distribution of valuable samples.
The global biobank industry is growing
in both size and significance, but a lack of
standardization and quality control around
biospecimen handling remains a challenge.
A sample’s molecular and biochemical
integrity after thawing depends upon the
manner in which it’s prepared, stored,
processed and sampled. Inconsistencies
in these practices can render samples
unusable. To combat this concern and
ensure consistency between biobanking
procedures, institutions and companies need
to implement techniques and procedures
that promote sample stability and integrity
across the entire process.
Temperature control and sample storage
play a critical role in maintaining integrity,
and knowing how to best implement these
practices is essential to ensuring samples
remain viable from inventory through to use.
Preparing for a biobank inventory
The biobanking process starts with
sample collection and processing. Before
preparation can begin, researchers should
implement a standard operating procedure
(SOP) to minimize the risk of sample
exposure and degradation, avoiding
compromising the integrity of their samples.
Adhering to this SOP throughout the
inventory process is essential to promoting
consistent best practices, particularly when
sample collection is performed across
Preparation of samples should first take
into account the workspace by design and
ergonomic environment and by selecting
reliable, validated and energy-efficient
equipment. Depending on a sample’s nature,
this will involve ensuring the appropriate
equipment and materials are available,
permitting users to handle any changing
demands, as well as optimizing downstream
processes. Key points to consider include:
• Selecting high-quality disposable
products—free of contaminants—to
maintain the integrity and purity of the
• Choosing liquid handling technology
able to meet the required levels of
consistency and reproducibility.
• Employing the latest tube and capping
advances to prevent sample loss and
degradation during storage.
After successful preparation, samples
need to be processed in a manner that not
only promotes integrity, but also provides
effective traceability. Standardized and
traceable containers that offer uniformity
across collection sites facilitate a robust
chain of custody and sample identification.
It’s ideal to apply the same level of
attention to detail and preparedness to
supporting equipment and procedures,
as well. This includes having tube storage
boxes, racks or tongs ready; identifying the
correct temperature-appropriate sample
identifiers, such as permanent barcodes and
labels, and secondary identifiers, such as
labels; and devising a plan for maintaining
the sample database with a strategy for
addressing any unidentified or mislabeled
samples. These practices will help labs’
storage and logging processes run smoothly.
Preparation is key for successful
collection, processing and storage, and the
introduction of barcode-labeled containers
and laboratory information management
systems (LIMS) are making this process
substantially more efficient.
Maintaining biobank sample
integrity during inventory
Biobank inventorying is necessary
for effective maintenance. Samples risk
irreversible damage and degradation
during phase transitions between freezing
and thawing and, thus, inventory success
depends upon preparation and planning.
Whether dealing with refrigerated or frozen
samples, choosing storage equipment with
reliable temperature uniformity, recovery
and back-up systems will minimize the risk
of sample loss.
Refrigerated samples typically need to
be maintained between 1 and 10 C or 2
and 8 C for GMP-certified or similarly
regulated facilities. Handling samples at
Holding refrigerated samples during inventory in a water-ice slurry will prevent warming that
can occur through exposure to room temperature, or cooling through direct contact with dry ice.