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Reaching Across Continents: A Prospective Biospecimen Collection Case Study

April 19, 2022

Although we’re based in Massachusetts, our scope is global. That’s how we’re able to fulfill our mission: helping researchers get biospecimens they need from the patients they want.

And that’s why we continue to develop a worldwide network of suppliers. They help us address the acute demand for human biospecimens, the increasing specificity of researchers’ needs, and the backlog of studies waiting to get started.

For example, an R&D organization investigating potential cancer cures has asked us to prospectively collect a very specific set of biospecimens – 30 plasma samples and 30 FFPE blocks of solid tumor from patients with stage four cervical cancer. The researchers’ needs are even more specific: the cancer must be caused by HPV 16, one of the two high-risk human papillomavirus types responsible for most HPV-caused cancers.

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For prospective collections, we notify hospitals, clinicians and physicians to collect matched sets of plasma and tissue as they encounter them in biopsies or surgeries. Each patient contributes one of each specimen type, an approach that helps researchers uncover biomarkers for a disease.

Although these specimens may well exist in the United States, we turned to India to fill the order. Its population size and density help us obtain a critical mass of very specific biospecimens within a tight time window (India’s population of 1.3 billion is more than three times the United States’ and occupies about one-third of the total geographic area). Specimens will be collected at carefully screened clinical sites, shipped to iSpecimen, then forwarded directly to the client.

We have taken careful steps to ensure that clinical sites, wherever they are in the world, meet all relevant regulations and Institutional Review Board standards around ethics, patient consent and privacy. Fortunately, as companies like iSpecimen expand opportunities for biobanks and others to contribute biospecimens, standards around the world have risen. As a result, we can offer access to more than 25 million banked and prospectively collected specimens, including biofluids, solid tissue, and cells.

All are available through the iSpecimen Marketplace – from suppliers anywhere in the world to researchers anywhere in the world.

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