- Human Biospecimens
- For Researchers
- For Biospecimen Contributors
- For Patients
June 21, 2018
Imagine you’re very sick and your prognosis is tenuous. You’re taking some experimental drugs and praying for the best. Your doctor wants you to stay hopeful.
“A lot of scientists are studying your condition as we speak,” she says. “We could see a breakthrough at any time.”
In fact, she would like to collect blood and tumor tissue samples from you. She wants to make them available to the army of researchers who are working to cure your disease. “Researchers always need specimens,” she tells you, “yet they’re notoriously hard to get.”
Do you consent? Of course!
A surgeon will set aside tissue the next time you’re in surgery. A nurse then walks in and draws a tube of blood. If this doesn’t help you, maybe it will help someone else.
A huge disconnect: Donated biospecimens sitting idle in biobanks
What if you learned that the blood and tissue samples you provided would sit in a freezer somewhere or languish in a biorepository for five years or more? Would you be disappointed, shocked, angry, or a combination of all three? The reality is that many – too many –biospecimens never make it out of storage to aid in the research and discovery process. It’s an unintended, yet hurtful, waste.
In order to learn more about this problem, we recently circulated an online questionnaire to biobanks around the world and found:
Patients are generous
We researched patients’ attitudes toward specimen donation in 2015. Our study found that:
Bridging the biospecimen gap
We are all fortunate to have patients who are eager, sometimes desperately so, to help find cures that can deliver much-needed hope and relief to so many. At the same time, their biospecimen donations, along with countless others, run the risk of aging into obsolescence while researchers who need them struggle to source the samples they need for their research.
Here’s the great news, this is all about to change.