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EU project will increase researcher access to biobanks

Press release   •   Apr 23, 2013 10:57 BST

All of us stand to benefit from large European health studies, but it is not always easy for researchers to collaborate across national borders. To help enable collaboration, the international EU-funded project BBMRI-LPC will spend the next four years working to increase researchers’ access to samples and data. Researchers at Uppsala University have a key role in the project.

Today, more and more biomedical research is conducted in large international collaborations. By working together, researchers can gain access to expertise in other groups as well as a large number of samples for analysis. The benefit is better results, which in turn leads to improved healthcare.

Research about our genes, their expression and function is often done in large prospective cohort studies, or LPC’s. These LPC’s are collections of samples that are not limited to patients with a specific disease, but include healthy individuals as well. Using these sample collections requires collaboration and standardization. But even though many European countries have invested millions of Euro to build large biobanks with samples from volunteers, it is still difficult for researchers to access that material.

One problem is that researchers often have limited resources, making it difficult to share samples and data with colleagues in other countries. Another problem is differences in legislation and the systems that regulate research, with different rules for ethics review and informed consent, making it difficult to send samples or data across borders.

Uppsala University has a key role in the project. The Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB) are involved in a work package that aims to find fair solutions for sharing samples and data between countries. Together with a group bioethicists and law scholar, the director Mats G. Hansson will work with questions concerning both ethical and legal regulatory systems.

It is also of great importance to have access to methods for rapid and specific analysis of many possible biomarkers in large numbers of samples. At the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Professor Ulf Landegren will develop advanced molecular methods for simultaneous analysis of many protein biomarkers in blood samples from biobanks. Dr Joakim Galli will work together with SciLife Innovation to develop models for how commercial interests, for example pharmaceutical companies, could access samples and data from biobanks. Dr Erik Bongcam Rudloff (also at SLU) will be responsible for harmonization of bioinformatic analysis of data from next generation sequencing.

About BBMRI-LPC
BBMRI-LPC (Biobanking and Biomolecular Research Infrastructure) is a 7th framework programme that is co-ordinated from Finland and the Netherlands. The project has 30 partners from 17 countries and runs over four years. The project has received 8 million Euro to make the largest European biobanks accessible for researchers from both Univeristies and industry. Find out more on the project website.

For more information, please contact:

Ulf Landegren, Professor at Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, ulf.landegren@igp.uu.se, 018-471 4910
Mats G Hansson, Professor of Biomedical Ethics, Director of Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB), mats.hansson@crb.uu.se, 018-471 6197

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