Biobanks crucial for novel diagnostics or therapeutics

The term biobank refers to a collection of human samples, such as blood, urine or tissue, that has been collected for the purpose of scientific research and/or clinical treatment. Donors can be patients as well as healthy individuals. Biobanks contain valuable information on the donor of the sample, for example on clinical outcome, medical status, genetic characteristics, socio-economic status or lifestyle. Access to these collections can be crucial for companies developing novel diagnostics or therapeutics.

“My research interest focuses on biomarkers for Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis. For these two diseases, VUmc manage renowned biobanks that generate a lot of interest, especially from the pharmaceutical industry. We are willing to grant companies access to our biobanks for projects that are in line with our own goals. The reason is simple. We want our research to benefit patients, so the more our data and expertise are used, the better. But that doesn’t mean we give it all away for free. All this knowledge has been gained thanks to public funding, so we expect commercial parties to pay a fair fee. The IXA team supports us in such negotiations and draws up the contracts, but they do more than that. Together, we also identify and actively approach companies that may benefit from our biobanks. I know from experience that there is a lot of added value in operating together. They contribute relevant perspectives that we don’t have. Working with the team on a variety of projects, I have learned that they offer a lot more expertise than is obvious at first sight.”

Charlotte Teunissen, Head of Neurochemistry Laboratory and Biobank, Department of Clinical Chemistry, VUmc