Matches biospecimen requesters and providers
Provides a protected online environment
Provides a global meeting place
An ethical service
Maximises biospecimen traceability
Provides financial transparency
Why this service is needed
All of us are dependant on pharma and biotech companies to provide us with drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. This is only possible if these companies have efficient access to biospecimens, most of which originate in the public sector.
Biosample Hub is the first not-for-profit online platform that allows biospecimen providers in the public sector (eg. academic biobanks) to meet and connect with requesters from biotech and pharma companies.
FAQ: Why 'not-for-profit'?
It is widely believed that for ethical reasons, “human tissue should be acquired and supplied through non-commercial procedures”. Nuffield Council on Bioethics, 1995
Biospecimen traceability (provenance) may be an issue where samples are sourced by intermediaries. Traceability is obviously maximised if there is free and direct communication between requester and the original biobank provider. Allowing this free and direct communication is a central feature of Biosample Hub.
Alternative routes for some
Many companies depend on commercial intermediaries to source biospecimens. The alternative is to source biospecimens directly, but this is not always easy.
Larger companies may have teams of dedicated sample procurement staff who can source biospecimens direct from hospitals and biobanks.
Unfortunately, smaller companies (SMEs) do not have this advantage.
Biobank directories help requesters to find suitable biospecimen providers.
However, biobank directories are not always easy for non-specialists to use. They may contain incomplete information and may be slow to update.
Another problem is that in many cases, biobank directories do not specify whether a biobank is willing to work with industry. Listing in a public biobank directory may be obligatory. So it does not necessarily indicate an interest in outreach.
The Biosample Hub solution
Biosample Hub helps industry requesters to find non-commercial providers for biospecimen access.
It facilitates the match-making process, providing significant advantages over standard biobank directories, as explained in the next section (Key features of Biosample Hub).
Key features of Biosample Hub
Biosample Hub enables the providers and requesters of biospecimens to accurately identify suitable partners. The protected environment of our platform encourages free and direct communication between providers and requesters, with all the ethical and scientific benefits that this brings.
Our customer focus
Biosample Hub is intended to support two specific groups:
(1) Requesters doing research in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies who need biospecimen access.
(2) Providers from non-commercial organisations like academic biobanks and hospitals. These providers must obviously want to provide biospecimens to requesters from biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.
Biosample Hub is not restricted to human biological samples. So requesters and providers of animal, plant, microbial and environmental samples are all included.
Biosample Hub provides its service globally, with requesters and providers based around the world.
Directories on our platform
There is a directory of providers (a biobank directory) so that requesters can contact providers. This directory is carefully designed to be user-friendly and allow efficient searches as described on the Platform page. Also, by virtue of the fact that participation on this platform is voluntary and directed toward supplying industry requesters, 100% of providers listed in our biobank directory should be willing to work with industry.
There is also a directory of requesters (companies) which is a unique feature. One advantage is that this allow providers (eg biobanks) to take the initiative and contact companies that look interesting. Another advantage is that providers can see the kind of biosamples that are in demand. As a result, providers can adjust their offerings and collection strategies.
The two directories mirror each other in their features. Future development of the platform will allow automatic notification of matching requesters and providers.
Users can contact each other without needing to reveal their email addresses, unless they wish to do so.
Users can update their own directory entries whenever they wish and to do so in real-time.
Additional resources on our platform
Additional features of the platform include:
Noticeboard: where specific requests for biospecimens can be posted. These requests are also circulated to potential providers both on an off the platform.
Discussion Forum: for biospecimen providers, so that they can exchange advice on issues like cost-recovery fees.
Resource Centre: providing useful information and tools to support industry-academia collaboration and biospecimen access.
The platform will be developed continuously and more features will be added with time.
Ethical principles we follow
The platform is run by a not-for-profit company which provides financial transparency. This is in line with the widely held belief that “human tissue should be acquired and supplied through non-commercial procedures”. Nuffield Council on Bioethics, 1995
The platform facilitates biosample traceability, so that providers and custodians of biospecimens can vouch for their eventual destination and use.
Protections in place
The platform is password protected and all the user organisations have been vetted to ensure that they are bona fide and that they are accurately represented in the directories.
Communications on the platform do not reveal email addresses. So users can decide if and when to reveal their contact details.
Most requesters using this platform will be researchers working in industry. They will include people from biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies who need biospecimens for their research to develop new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. The platform enables requesters to procure biospecimens from academic biobanks and other non-commercial biosample suppliers.
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Biospecimen providers using this platform will belong to not-for-profit or non-commercial organisations. They will include academic biobanks, clinicians and research groups with sample collections. These collections will not only comprise human biological samples, but also animal, plant, microbe and environmental samples.
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How The Platform Works
The Biosample Hub platform includes firstly, a directory of industry researchers. Secondly, a directory of biosample suppliers. Thirdly, a requests noticeboard and finally, a discussion forum. Together these components allow requesters and providers to make direct contact. Therefore, biospecimens and associated information will be transferred rapidly and with maximum traceability.
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Biotech and pharma companies need to find biospecimens and associated information without delay in order to develop drugs, diagnostics and vaccines to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. To help these companies, Biosample Hub will make every effort to place them in direct contact with suitable biospecimen providers. News updates on Covid-19 research and biobanking are provided on our LinkedIn and Twitter feeds.