Today one of priorities of Federal North-West Medical Research Centre is the work on personalized and translational medicine in the Centre, and in St. Petersburg and Russia. Translational medicine is fast operational transfer of basic research results (mainly in the field of cell and molecular biology and biochemistry) into clinical practice, id est the creation of diagnostic protocol or therapeutic treatment target based on the identified molecular-cellular mechanisms of diseases’ pathogenesis. The personalized medicine aim is the creation of diagnostic algorithms and treatment strategy taking into account patient’s individual (genetic) characteristics. Today these types of clinical practice include molecular diagnostics and pharmacogenetics.
Usually a lot of time of any biomedical research is spent on research, collection and routine characterization of biological material. To reduce this time there are biobanks providing biologists and physicians with biological material from patients with specific diseases, as well as from healthy donors by taking a huge amount of work to collect and classify biological samples and the associated clinical information. This ultimately reduces the time for research work and promotes rapid implementation of research results into clinical practice. Consequently, the cost of newly developed drug or medical technology is also reduced. Thus, biobanks serve as the link between donors of biological material (blood samples, bone marrow, etc) and academic staff research units, processing and storing the resulting material for later use. In general, biobank is a key instrument of personalized medicine progress and development of drugs as a whole. The key advantages of the biobanks network are the identification of gene function, gene link with diseases, the identification of new therapeutic targets, and validation of the disease biomarkers.
In 2012, the first biobank appeared in our country. It works on the basis of Federal North-West Medical Research Centre. The term “biobank” means the storage of biological material samples and associated clinical information intended for biomedical research. The difference between biobank and the collection of biological samples is in the following:
- systematic clinical information associated with each biological sample;
- continuity of storage and samples;
- independence of the collection, systematization and storage of biological samples from a particular study;
- availability of the biomaterial stored in a biobank for any research group.
Biobank of Federal North-West Medical Research Centre now actively works on population bio banking of rare clinical cases. Many samples and collections in the biobank are unique in their kind. So, today in the biobank we collected a huge database of characterized and clinically described biological samples from patients with various diseases and healthy donors:
- Frozen whole blood — more than 6 thousand samples;
- Serum — more than 6 thousand samples;
- Blood plasma — more than a thousand samples;
- Leukocyte fraction of peripheral blood — more than 500 samples;
- Mononuclear fraction of bone marrow — about 500 samples;
- Solid bone marrow — more than 400 samples;
- Spinal canal and bone marrow smears;
- Immediately frozen tissue fragments;
- DNA samples — more than 500 samples;
- RNA stabilized whole blood;
- Culture of mesenchymal and hematopoietic stem cells;
- Samples of urine, saliva, cerebrospinal fluid, etc.
The entire amount of biological material is available for experimental work, both within the research projects of the Center and external research organizations, such as biomedical research institutions, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as this is a prerequisite for the development of translational medicine.
Thus, during two years of its existence the Biobank of Federal North-West Medical Research Centre occupied a special place in the development of basic medical science and practical medicine in St. Petersburg.