Biosample Hub launches to connect researchers and pharma

By Leila Hawkins
Biosample Hub is a new online platform that will help researchers and the pharmaceutical sector source biosamples for drug development...

A new global platform called Biosample Hub has launched to enable researchers in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry to easily get biosamples to develop new drugs. 

Biosamples can be derived from what would otherwise be medical waste such as blood samples and excised tissue, but can be invaluable to researchers for the development of new drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. Despite this biosample procurement is not easy for industry.

Biobanks often use medical terminology which makes access for non-specialists difficult; others simply do not want to supply the private sector. 

Commercial brokers exist who can help, however most are based in the US and don't have connections to many parts of the world including Western Europe, because of serious ethical concerns about the sale of human biological samples. In these areas where commercial brokers are poorly accepted, vast biosample resources are inaccessible to industry.

Specific concerns often voiced about commercial brokers include a lack of financial transparency and lack of sample traceability: brokers rarely reveal the source of their samples to avoid circumvention and resulting loss of customers. This in turn means that recipients of samples don’t always get all the information they need about a sample. 

Because they don’t know where or by whom it was collected, there are concerns about the standardisation of sample procurement and storage. In turn, this leads to a reduction in trust, and a lack of confidence in the samples.  

Founded as a not-for-profit social enterprise, the Biosample Hub provides an online platform allowing member biobanks and companies to interact openly and transparently. The platform includes directories of biobanks, companies and requests, together with social networking features, and personal support can also be provided. 

All the biobanks listed have actively chosen to be included so they can work with industry, so that there are no false leads for companies. 

A key aspect of the Biosample Hub is complete financial transparency, with any net profit divided between necessary reinvestment in the company and donation to research charities, selected by members and the advisory panel. Revenue will come from the annual subscriptions paid by company members, removing ethical concerns. 

The hub is the brainchild of Robert Hewitt MB BS, PhD, who has over 30 years' experience in biobanking, having established biobanks in London, Riyadh and Singapore. “The current system is broken" he says. "It’s not working well for biobanks or for the companies looking for samples. Therefore, I’ve made it my mission to create a solution - Biosample Hub is that solution.” 

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