NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Europe is putting together the infrastructure for a €5 million ($7.8 million) human biobank resource that will link together human samples from many of Europe’s clinical and research institutions into a shared resource.
The project, called the Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure, is funded through the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, under the EU’s Seventh Framework.
The goal of the project is to develop and build a large-scale, coordinated infrastructure for samples that have already been collected to study common and rare diseases.
BBMRI sees the network of biobanks as a way of addressing the problems facing national sample collections: they often remain underused, they duplicate each others’ efforts, and they do not have access to large and diverse enough pools of samples.
The program, which currently has a consortium of 52 participants and 150 other associated partners throughout Europe, will include biobanks with blood, serum, tissue, or other biological samples. BBMRI expects the network include resource centers and biocomputing centers that can link repositories to existing databases and scientific literature.
Operating such a unique biobanking concept will pose ethical and legal issues about the collections and the use of the samples in them. BBMRI said that very few of the member states involved have any laws on the books about governing biobanks, and these laws vary widely.
The BBMRI’s first points of focus will be to inventory existing biobanking facilities in Europe, including population cohorts, twin registries, groups with specific diseases, and cohorts from isolated populations.
The BBMRI said that it is working closely with other, related European and international infrastructures to share knowledge and avoid duplication.