Traditional biobanks are offering virtual biobanks to aid biomedical research. A virtual biobank is an online platform which provides 2D and 3D form of samples stored at traditional biobanks. It can be accessed via specialized software or a web portal. This tool helps to speed up the accessibility of biospecimens and clinical data, and further analyze samples.
In 2018, a virtual biobank was developed by the UK’s University of Newcastle and Australia’s Hunter Medical Research Institute to host 3D copies of human cancer tissues. This online platform allows researchers to access virtual copies of tumor samples from the Hunter Cancer Biobank, along with important clinical and molecular information. It will accelerate cancer research activities.
Again, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) is developing a virtual biobank which will be widely available to UCSF investigators. It will provide aggregate participant and sample data for existing biospecimen collections from participating repositories. It will promote collaborations and enhance research due to the accessibility of pre-existing biospecimens.
The global biobanks market is expected to grow from $50.3 billion in 2018 to $68.5 billion in 2023 at an annual growth rate of more than 6%. Market growth will benefit from the increasing investment in R&D and implementation of advanced technologies.
Biobanks are increasingly investing in Internet of Things (IoT) and big data technologies to effectively track and access biospecimens. IoT is defined as the network of physical objects supported by technology and sensors for electronic data communication. Big data technologies are used to analyze and process complex and large volume of data to provide meaningful insights. IoT and Big Data helps to bridge the gap between biobanks and researchers through the specimen procurement system. It enables researchers to access these biospecimens and improve research efficiency.
Biobanks are also implementing IoT driven remote monitoring solutions as part of cold chain infrastructure to enable tracking of biospecimen during storage and distribution. For example, Finland’s biobanks offer big data technologies that medical researchers need for personalized medicine. Finnish biobanks hold millions of patient samples consisting of genomic data. Genomic information is integrated with physical sample and digital technologies to aid in studies of diseases. The Finnish biobank model is designed for phenotyping research on major diseases like diabetes, dementia or chronic pain. Phenotyping research describes the result of the interaction between the expression of genes, diet and the environment.
The iSpecimen Marketplace is a platform that provides life science researchers an access to biospecimens. It results in efficient specimen procurement and improving research for development of new medicines. It provides a platform to researchers to access millions of biospecimens and accelerate further studies.