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Europe Planning Biobanking Coordination

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The European Union is planning to coordinate a number of biobanks around Europe, particularly in Nordic regions, in order to better use the samples and data they hold for biomedical research, the University of Uppsala's Clinical Research Center said today.

Sweden's UCRC said that part of the EU's research strategy involves organizing 30 different biobanks in respective population-based and disease-based databases, and their research techniques and regulations concerning ethics, administration, and funding all will be coordinated.

UCRC said that Europe and the Nordic nations in particular have biobanks that are a "goldmine for research."

Sweden has collections of biographical materials "that are unique in the world and of great interest," the university said, pointing out that it has samples for finding markers for good and bad prognoses for cardiovascular diseases, and that the Karolinska Institute has a unique twins registry.

"If someone wanted to make comparisons across studies from different countries, or amalgamate studies to attain a really enormous database, it's important for analyses to be carried out in the same manner," Ulf Landegren, a professor of molecular genetics and pathology at Uppsala University, said in a statement.

"Sweden has the great advantage of having a system of civic registration numbers, a register of diseases, and also a domestic animal register, as well as a number of enthusiasts who have meticulously catalogued this collected biological material in well-organized archives," Landegren added.

The declining cost of DNA sequencing also is making biobanking more important, the university said. "Having ready samples on hand means results can be obtained more quickly than if scientists had to start by gathering samples when the research question is formulated," it added.

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