FFPE Tissue Blocks in storage When you need human biospecimens for research, we will help source them as quickly as possible. But here is a secret to getting them even earlier: contact us for help before you need your biospecimens. Well before.

 If you do, we will streamline the procurement process and develop a solid request for proposals (RFP) that helps to avoid the common pitfalls that delay research and run up costs. 

Time and again we see friends in research creating RFPs that set unrealistic deadlines, involve methods that are unfeasible, and set budgets that are too low for any vendor to meet. Months after issuing that RFP, they have received no bids and are forced to go back to the drawing board. By making these common mistakes, researchers lose precious time for their organizations and the patients who need new treatments.

The earlier you talk to us, the better chance you have of avoiding unpleasant surprises. Here are some of the things we can help you with when you act early:

We can help you discover what is available. 

A common misconception in the life sciences industry is that all the biofluids, tissue samples, or cell samples necessary for research are readily available from one or two biobanks. Although there are millions of samples in storage around the world, they may not exist in the quantity, quality, and format you need. Or, as is likely in this precision medicine age, they may not come from the patients with the traits you need—e.g., age, race, genetic makeup, blood type, diagnoses, test results, medical histories, lifestyle factors, treatments, etc.

As you can imagine, the more specific your needs, the more likely the specimens you need are not easily accessible. Or the samples may be accessible but are not properly annotated with the data you care about. We will help you find exactly the right specimens from patients who can donate them prospectively (i.e., on-demand specifically for your project). That will take some time, though, so contacting us in advance will allow us to start the procurement process well before your project necessitates the specimens in question. Early communication will also allow us to establish a collaborative relationship with your organization, granting you access to our deep specimen expertise and global supply network.

Survey data confirms the collective need for prospective (or “just-in-time”) biobanking

In early 2022, iSpecimen surveyed life science researchers and asked from where they expected to obtain biospecimens in the upcoming year. Of the 67 unique organizations that responded, 63% of the respondents said that prospective collections (or what the industry terms: “just-in-time” biobanking) would make up more than half of their specimen needs. Only 37% of respondents indicated that most of their specimens would come from banked inventories. This illustrates an industry-wide shift in collection methodology—one that iSpecimen is poised to accommodate for with our ever-increasing access to sites capable of prospectively collecting specimens.

We can help you understand what is viable.

Distinctions around viability are nuanced. For example, if your research project is going to involve samples of plasma, we can help you specify the right volumes. An RFP went out the other day seeking vials of 10 ml to 15 ml from each of hundreds of patient donors. Finding that quantity of specimens from banked inventory is unrealistic because to get 15 ml of plasma from a patient, you need to collect 30–40ml of whole blood. If a patient has given that much volume, another research team was probably already lined up to use it. With our extensive biospecimen procurement services, we could have saved this organization weeks or months with a 20-minute planning conversation. 

We can help you recruit collection sites. 

When your required samples need to be prospectively collected from patients, someone needs to canvass all available providers ahead of time to organize the collection. With our iSpecimen Marketplace and established network of specimen providers, we will first assess whether a prospective collection is necessary. If it is, we will do it quickly and cost-effectively by tapping into our global supplier network. This recruiting step alone can take time—another reason why you should call us early.

We can help you line up contracts.

Each supplier needs IRB approval, consent forms, compliance documents, and an organization like iSpecimen to do due diligence. To save money and time, leave contracting and compliance up to us—this is what we do. Get us involved before you even draft the RFP.

We can help you build collection kits.

Every prospective collection is different, and each requires a collection kit with tools and instructions for the clinicians doing the collection. The instructions include provisions for any post-collection processing such as centrifuging. One particularly important post-processing step is gene sequencing. If a third party is to do it, it will take planning, time, and money. iSpecimen uniquely insources kit manufacturing, meaning our team has control over every aspect of kit production, designing each one according to your specific collection requirements.

We can help you schedule a collection.

Each type of specimen takes a different amount of time to collect. Consider a specific type of tumor tissue. You will have to wait for a certain number of highly specific patients to come through supplier hospitals and undergo the required surgeries. It is time-consuming and expensive to organize. Leave it to the professionals to get started right away.

We can help you manage complexity.

Do you need samples taken over a period of years? Do you need matched sets of tumor tissue and normal adjacent tissue? These are just two examples of highly complex requests that, if broached in the RFP and not before, will waste precious time.

To stay on schedule and within budget, bring us in early. We can help you with timelines, feasibility assessments and cost estimates. We can orchestrate even the most complex collections and have all of the protocols and consent processes in place to set your project up for success.

We will help you save time and money, while you help save lives.

Learn about the iSpecimen Marketplace where you can browse millions of richly annotated, de-identified human tissue and biofluid biospecimens, in addition to hematopoietic and immune cell products and COVID-19 samples. You can join for free. Contact us with any questions you might have about the iSpecimen Marketplace.