Biobanks: Investing in the Future of Medicine
Jan 11, 2017 Cedars-Sinai Staff
A biobank is a resource for keeping blood and tissue samples, and it's a huge investment in the future of precision medicine. New treatments tailored right down to a person's DNA often begin with deposits in a biobank.
Thank the biobank for medical advances like these:
- Immune response to cancer: Today, cancer patients are often treated with drugs to mobilize the immune system to fight the cancer cells. About 15% of patients respond. Biobank technology has allowed scientists to develop tests that predict which patients will best respond to immunotherapy.
- Proper blood thinner dosages: Blood thinners are used to treat thromboses, embolisms, and other clots, but they can lead to excessive bleeding. DNA data from biobanks has played a role in correctly determining dosages for these anti-coagulants.
- Preventing heart attacks: Ultrasensitive scanning and analysis of heart damage in banked blood samples has enabled researchers to gather information for preventive treatment of heart disease and similar ailments. This means lifestyle adjustments and proper medication can enter the patient care conversation at an earlier and potentially crucial time.
- Anticipating dementia and similar conditions: What happens to the brain long before the symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer's disease are detected? Here again, researchers draw on information from samples in the biobank to explore theories that might reveal early markers for these and other disorders.
The Cedars-Sinai Biobank has been operating for 5 years to establish a library of specimens that provide valuable insights when researchers study diseases.
During hospital admission, patients can participate in the banking process by consenting to share tissue or fluid samples with our biobank. Typically these samples are left over from a surgical procedure or from a blood draw. The many thousands of samples are carefully stored in liquid nitrogen or in freezers kept at -80°C.