5 ways to ensure quality of biospecimens at biorepositories

The quality of biospecimens at biorepositories seems to be a rising issue, but are there standardized guidelines that help maintain the quality of these specimens?
quality of biospecimens

5 ways to ensure quality of biospecimens at biorepositories

A lot of talk has been going on about the quality of biospecimens stored in biorepositories and whether they meet necessary national and international guidelines. But what are these guidelines and who specifies them? If one were to start an on-site biorepository or a bioprocessing centre, various organizations and their standardization protocols come into play.

  1. SOPs: Standard Operating Procedures play an important role in standardizing biobanking procedures by helping with quality improvement and minimizing gaps between the sample handling and storage protocols of different biobanks. Organizations like the Biobank Resource Centre in Vancouver, Canada and Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research Branch in Maryland, US provide SOPs to highlight the best practices in establishing and operating biobanks.
  1. CAP Accreditation: Recently, in an article featured in an ISBER newsletter, the College of American Pathologists has launched a CAP accreditation program for biorepositories. This program aims at formalizing procedures and protecting the quality of specimens by focusing on personal training. Detailed checklists during inspection ensures specimen and data security and allow for stringent standardization of biobanking procedures.
  1. SPREC: Biospecimen quality in biobanks can be improved using a Standard Pre-Analytical Code (SPREC) that identifies factors that may have an impact on the integrity of biospecimens and clinical samples during collection, processing and storage. The SPRECalc Tool is available for free at the ISBER online store along with guidelines for proper implementation of the tool.
  1. Barcoding: Tracking biospecimens is an important factor in efficient biobanking and tracking devices and barcoded labels are of growing concern. Biospecimen tubes are labeled with a data matrix barcode that will convert into a bar code system and allow for easy sample tracking. Testing the durability of barcode labels before implementing them is a good strategy to ensure that the labels adhere to individual biobanking protocols.
  1. SAT by ISBERISBER has created a Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) to enable repository workers to determine how well their repository follows the ISBER Best Practices for Repositories. The tool then assesses your results based on your answers and provides you with a risk balanced score and personalized feedback. Click here to view the 2012-2013 SAT result summary.

The above list isn’t exhaustive, but all the mentioned measures enable you to take the quality and integrity of your biorepository well beyond the thresholds outlined by regulatory frameworks. This ensures better quality biospecimens, thus leading to better research.

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