- For Researchers
- For Biospecimen Contributors
- For Patients
- Human Biospecimens
March 28, 2019
Since 2014, we at iSpecimen have been committed to helping drive medical breakthroughs by connecting researchers with the human biospecimens they need from the patients who have them. In addition to streamlining researchers’ work, this work has helped biobanks and healthcare organizations fulfill their missions (and generate new revenue) by putting their banked, remnant and prospectively collected specimens to work.
As we start our sixth year, we wanted to let you know how much things have changed in the world of biospecimen procurement, especially since we launched the iSpecimen Marketplace in 2017.
Harnessing the power of technology to streamline biospecimen sourcing
For decades, launching a research initiative that involves biospecimens has been difficult. Many of you have firsthand experience with the frustration. Sourcing richly annotated, de-identified specimens that precisely match one’s research needs has been a bit like searching for the holy grail. Researchers have traditionally struggled by phone, email and word of mouth to cobble together enough of the right samples to support their work. Delays in scheduled research were common.
Specimen procurement needed to get easier. As with searching for books or flights, the internet was the way. That’s why we launched the iSpecimen Marketplace. The innovative marketplace platform connects researchers and scientists who desperately need human biospecimens with a vast network of biorepositories and healthcare organizations that have direct access to the specimens and patients needed to advance their work.
As with Amazon or Kayak.com, proprietary, cloud-based technology streamlines discovery—in our case, of biofluids, tissues and cells—as well as the procurement transaction. Researchers now intuitively search for specimens and patients across a federated partner network of hospitals, labs, biobanks, blood centers, and other healthcare organizations. Disparate data types from vastly different systems are synthesized in our technology, enabling researchers to easily and compliantly gain access to specimens and enabling suppliers to offer selected specimen holdings for use. Ultimately, healthcare advances for all.
A new biospecimen paradigm
For the first time, researchers can search in a centralized platform for a vast array of tissue, biofluids and cells by myriad attributes, including patient diagnosis, demographics, medications, and past procedures. This ability to procure highly specific specimens becomes more important every day. Today, every condition is increasingly viewed as a rare disease, characterized by each patient’s unique biochemistry, genetic makeup, and even lifestyle.
What a few years ago might have been a request for breast cancer tissue is now likely to specify criteria such as cancer type, stage, treatment procedures and response to those procedures.
These requests require increased responsiveness—on both the front and back ends of procurement—and a marketplace that offers expansive, increasingly dynamic access to precise biospecimen matches, made possible by an integrated supplier network with distributed inventories.
The Marketplace works
We built the iSpecimen Marketplace and, fortunately, you, the medical research community, are joining. More than 100 new suppliers—hospitals, labs, biobanks, blood centers and other healthcare organizations—have signed up in the last two years. Nearly 1,000 research organizations have also joined, which is more than three times the total of 2017. We’ve expanded our specimen provider network to include organizations from Central America, South America, Asia and Europe.
The iSpecimen Marketplace now provides access to more than 25 million human biospecimens, including banked research samples and clinical remnant samples, and access to millions of patients from whom samples can be prospectively collected. We’ve also expanded our line of fresh primary hematopoietic cells.
Since researchers need extensive data about their biospecimen samples, iSpecimen has also amassed a database of de-identified clinical information, including results from more than 300 million laboratory tests from more than 8 million patients.
Centralized, organized and collaborative
Marketplace users like you are giving us very positive feedback about their new ability to streamline previously labor-intensive procurement processes. Now, through one online platform, you can:
Optimizing biospecimen research for pharma, biotech and IVD customers
Our larger pharma, biotech and in vitro diagnostic (IVD) customers find the Marketplace approach especially beneficial. Both the procurement and science sides can access and track all aspects of the sourcing process at any time, from anywhere.
For procurement specialists working on numerous research programs and obtaining specimens from multiple vendors, the process outside of our platform has been anything but centralized or efficient. Some of our larger customers can have up to 100 specimen vendors to manage individually; tracking quotes, orders, shipments, invoices, and data sets across all deliveries and vendors is highly complex. Departments are sometimes siloed and are sourcing from various vendors but are not sharing knowledge or leveraging economies of scale the way they could through the Marketplace.
In the Marketplace, they can see what your teams and colleagues are ordering, enhancing the collaboration that is increasingly important in research today. The ability to manage all of this centrally, while still maintaining extensive access to the volume and types of specimens and patients needed to fuel research, is something we’ve worked hard to deliver.
If you’re already an active Marketplace user, this experience should sound familiar. If you’re not, we urge you to visit the Marketplace and have a look around. You can join for free and creating a login is easy.
As you can see, things have changed a lot in six years, and will continue to in collaboration with you.
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