23.10.2018

Review of the operational status of Finnish hospital biobanks

Recently established Finnish hospital biobanks have launched new research activity in Finland. Through the Finnish biobank network*, the unique sample and data collections have become available for biobank research and enable the initiation of new innovative research efforts both nationally and internationally.

Medaffcon Oy, in collaboration with the University of Eastern Finland, has conducted a survey on the current operational status of the Finnish hospital biobanks, possible bottlenecks and opportunities of conducting industry-driven biobank and associated real world evidence (RWE) studies. The survey was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, a structured online survey was used, and during the second phase, face-to-face interviews with the hospital biobank representatives were performed. Data from all six hospital biobanks was collected during the survey that was performed between December 2017 and May 2018.

The survey confirmed that vast amounts of high-quality samples reside in Finnish hospital biobanks. Sample-related data available from several sources, including the hospital records and national registries, can be further linked to the samples. Finnish hospital biobanks have created a unique research infrastructure in Finland that has enabled the initiation of both national and international research activities. Currently, most activities in the hospital biobanks are associated with collecting new prospective samples and transferring old research collections to the biobanks. The current processes regarding sample and data donations for research purposes still vary and the key needs are associated with improving data-analytical capabilities and streamlining the operational procedures. However, while the operational maturity between the biobanks varies, illustrating the different stages of the newly established biobanks, there is a noticeable shared ambition and will to further strengthen the biobank-based research activity in Finland. It is expected that the Finnish hospital biobanks develop an internationally recognized research ecosystem that will serve the needs of both academic and privately funded research efforts.

* In 2017, the hospital districts and universities founded a joint service unit by the name Finnish Biobank Cooperative, FINBB. The intention is that individual biobanks will continue their operations, but that in the future, the cooperative will perform some of the functions, and provide the one-stop-shop service model for both academic and industry driven research collaboration. This will make it possible for academic and commercial researchers and product development to access biobanks’ sample collections in a centralized manner. FINBB will also cooperate closely with the genome center and other centers of excellence. In the future, all public biobanks in Finland will be encouraged to join the FINBB.

 

The report from the survey can be downloaded from this link.

For further information:

Maija Wolf (), Senior Scientific Advisor, Development Manager, Medaffcon Oy

Jaana Ahlamaa (), Medical and Market Access Director, Medaffcon Oy