Biobank is a repository that accepts, processes, stores and distributes biospecimens and associated data for the use of research and medical usages. One of the first biorepositories was established as part of the Army Medical Museum was in Washington D.C, by U.S Department of Defence, in 1862. In the olden days, scientists often collected and used biospecimens in isolation. It has been changed over the years from a university-based repositories to institutional and government supported repositories, commercial or pharmaceutical biorepositories to now virtual biobanks. These large-scale repositories are collected to analyse and store phenotypic and genetic information on representative samples of their source populations. Virtual biobanks are accessed using specialized software and web portals connecting bio banks around the world that are developed to assist investigators locate biospecimens for testing and data mining from multiple biobanks in dispersed locations.
This process has increased the demand for high quality specimens with accurate, reliable, standardized clinical and laboratory data. Biobanks play an important role not only in the identification of the causes of diseases in an individual or a group of individuals, but also in the development of diagnostics, therapeutic and preventive methods. Biobanks have the potential to become useful tools for researching common and or even rare diseases. But more mechanisms and legal systems should be implemented to enhance research centres for encompassing protections for biobanking and genomic research.
There are more than 120 biobanks worldwide, having evolved over the past 30 years. They range from small, predominantly university-based repositories, to large, government-supported resources. Biobank Graz is one of the largest and most well-known clinical biobanks in the world. Around 20 million individual specimens of body fluids and human tissue are stored there.
There is repository of plants, animals and other non-human samples and as well storage of biological samples obtained from humans. The IARC Bio Bank (IBB) is one of the largest, most varied and richest International collections of samples in the world.
Strong legislations are required to develop more research in this field to help mankind. Of recent, the Swedish government plans to replace the current Biobanks Act, 2003 by its new legislation by 2023. The new bill from the government promotes research and healthcare when unnecessary administration is reduced while maintaining the protection of donors. In Sweden’s biobanks, there are over 150 million saved samples in 338 different biobanks. The new Biobanks Act includes several changes are expected to help reduce administration and costs as well as help speed up processes when conducting clinical trials without diminishing the protection of the sample donor.