In December of 1831, a young Charles Darwin set sail on an expedition aboard the HMS Beagle. The planned two-year voyage became five, and much of his time was spent on land, where he collected fossils, plants and animals. He studied the relationships of species to habitats, and these observations shifted his perspective. Previously, he subscribed to the belief that species are fixed, but reflection on his findings prompted his theory of evolution by natural selection–a journey of the mind that changed the course of science.
Certain sample collections are irreplaceable.
Counting the number of samples in a biobank and using that figure to assess the maturity or quality of a biobank is an oversimplification. Value is a more nuanced concept.Pause to think about the unique and historic samples from the HMS Beagle expedition now held at the National History Museum in London. Nearly 200 years later, how can we define their value to humankind?
More recently, from 2012–2018, as part of the RD-Connect project, samples from rare diseases were catalogued by EuroBioBank. This multi-disciplinary project was established to create an infrastructure for rare disease research on a global scale.
In fact, for decades now, unique collections of material, serum, tissue and a variety of cells have been stored to help researchers understand non-communicable diseases. For example, Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a genetic disorder that affects approximately 15,000 people globally and prevents the body from building strong bones, only has 385 samples with associated clinical data. Insight into the molecular mechanisms behind individual diseases like OI can only be obtained from the investigation of human biological samples. These rare disease collections hold an immeasurable wealth of information, much of it yet to be revealed.
Like you, we see the value and the potential of your biospecimens.
Proper preparation can help maintain the highest sample quality.
Formaldehyde was the perfect solution for many samples that Darwin collected. Today, ultra-cold storage is the standard for many materials and a dedicated sample preparation step may be required to maintain the highest quality possible. The TSX series mentioned above is designed for long-term storage, and not for cold storage preparatory freezing. A Thermo Scientific CryoMed Controlled-Rate Freezer can provide flexibility with six standard preset and 10 user-defined freezing profiles (20 steps each) for custom protocols to help meet application needs.
With time, comes new perspectives.
The experience and knowledge being developed on how to store samples under the correct conditions–and access them for the benefit of the patient–is a welcome source of information and inspiration for many biobankers working in different arenas. These scientists understand it is not about the number of samples stored, but the unique characteristics of the samples that hold the real added value–a value that might be realized through the eyes of future researchers. At Thermo Fisher Scientific, we’re honored to be the sentinels of discovery.