The Bioresource center Ghent – the central biobank of Ghent University Hospital – is an open service center facilitating translational biomedical research. It offers various services, including:
- advice on biobanking, international quality standards and biobanking protocols
- advice on project start-up (funding applications)
- operational support: sample and data management, sample processing
- experts on legal framework regarding human body material in Belgium
The Bioresource center Ghent is part of the Health, Innovation and Research Institute of Ghent University Hospital. Previously known as Bimetra Biobank, it has been operating since 2015 out of a high quality biobanking facility and now stores over 220,000 clinical and research samples. These include population-based, prospective disease-based and research-based collections. All sample collection and handling procedures are ethically approved and follow international guidelines including the International Organization for Standardization ISO 9001:2008 quality management guidelines, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines for biorepositories and the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) Best Practices for Repositories Guidelines.
The Bioresource center Ghent is active in the European Biobank Network (BBMRI-ERIC) and the Belgian biobank node (BBMRI.be). The center is open to collaborating with international researchers from all over the world and will also store external samples on request.
Samples Available at the Bioresource center Ghent
The Bioresource center Ghent stores retrospective sample collections that were collected from 2001 onwards. They also collect and store a number of ongoing prospective disease-focused and population collections. Their population collections include a longitudinal cohort looking at cardiovascular and aging, a twin registry and a hepatotropic pathogen cohort.
Their disease-specific collections include:
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic renal failure
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Cancer collections (Prostate cancer, Breast cancer, Cervical cancer, Lung cancer and Pediatric haematological cancers
Most of the cancer samples have normal control tissue samples. Some of the other disease-specific collections also have healthy control samples.
The Bioresource center Ghent stores liquid, frozen tissue and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples. Samples differ between cohorts and may include:
- buffy coat
- peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs)
- cell lines
- reproductive samples
- tumour tissue
- medical device retrievals
“A collection of retrieved medical devices including hip and knee prostheses and other implanted medical devices will be added to the Bioresource center Ghent shortly,” said Professor Catherine Van Der Straeten, Head of the Health Innovation and Research Institute Ghent.
All samples are coded to maintain patient privacy. Minimal clinical information is kept within the biobank sample and data management system. If appropriateInstitutional Review Board (IRB) approvals are obtained, additional clinical data can be released through connection with the electronic health record system or related clinical registries. All data requests must align with IRB ethics. Individual research collaboration agreements will specify sample and data use.
All sample handling processes at the Bioresource center Ghent have been approved by an Institutional Ethical Review Board. Sample collection and patient consent processes comply with Good Clinical Practice guidelines and the Declaration of Helsinki. The biobank has a sample processing lab that follows Good Laboratory Practices (GLP). All staff are trained and use Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to standardize sample processing. The lab is located next to storage facilities so there is minimal transport time.
The Bioresource center Ghent uses a quality management system that follows ISO 9001:2008, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines for biorepositories and the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories (ISBER) Best Practices for Repositories Guidelines. In 2014, the Bioresource center Ghent underwent a peer-review audit focussed on their biobank activities.
Frozen samples are stored in temperature-controlled, monitored freezers and liquid nitrogen devices equipped with an alarm system. FFPE samples are stored in temperature-monitored cabinets.
All samples are tracked using the SLIMS management system (Genohm, Lausanne, Switzerland). Sample processing data is entered into an integrated electronic lab notebook (ELN) in real time to enable full traceability.
The Bioresource center Ghent performs an annual sample quality check. This includes isolating DNA and RNA from samples to analyse the quality, and staining cryosections for quality assessment by a pathologist.
All researchers anywhere in the world are welcome to apply to use samples and associated data stored at the Bioresource center Ghent. The biobank processes the applications and a “human body material advisory board “ assesses applications based on sample availability, the related ICF constrictions and ethical approval of proposed sample/data use.
How to Access Samples at the Bioresource center Ghent
Researchers can apply to access data and/or samples at the Bioresource center Ghent website: www.hiruz.be (available from mid-February 2019). Once an application is approved, the applicant will need to sign a Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA) or Data Transfer Agreement (DTA). These documents will specify how researchers are allowed to use the samples and/or data.