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Mayo Clinic Connects with Biospecimen Collection Company for Personalized Medicine

September 12, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine and the Lexington, Mass.-based biospecimen collection company iSpecimen are collaborating for a partnership that will connect biomedical researchers with samples from Mayo’s cancer serum biobank and associated data for their studies.

The Cancer/Normal Serum Biobank, located on Mayo Clinic’s campus in Rochester, Minn., includes approximately 130,000 frozen vials of serum from about 17,000 unique, consented patients. The samples were collected between 1975 and 1990 across 85 different malignant and benign conditions. iSpecimen, which works to procure annotated samples for life science researchers, will manage the serum inventory and associated data through its cloud-based technology solution, matching researchers to the right samples to fuel their studies, according to a company press release.

“As is the case with many biorepositories, intensive resources have been put into creating a variety of sample collections along with state-of-the-art facilities,” Stephen Thibodeau, Ph.D., the David F. and Margaret T. Grohne Director, Biorepositories Program, Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, said in a prepared statement. “But despite holding thousands of sought-after samples, the biorepository is underutilized by external researchers. iSpecimen presented an opportunity for us to work with them to efficiently move these specimens into the hands of many more scientists studying cancer and related conditions, which ultimately should result in better treatments.”

With the surge of precision medicine, and particularly increased interest and funding for cancer research, as evidenced by initiatives such as the Cancer Moonshot and Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, Mayo Clinic’s Cancer/Normal Serum Biobank has the potential to present research value not only due to the thousands of serum samples it holds, but also due to the longitudinal nature of many of the samples. “Also of considerable value is the clinical annotation accompanying the samples, which includes patient demographics, blood collection data, tumor information, treatment information, and status of tumor at time of blood collection,” the press release stated.

“Developed specifically with researchers in mind, iSpecimen is proud to collaborate with Mayo Clinic to help to expand this biobank’s reach across the scientific community,” said Christopher Ianelli, M.D., Ph.D., CEO, iSpecimen. “It’s estimated that the number of new cancer cases per year will rise from 14 to 22 million globally within the next two decades. As oncology research continues to evolve at a rapid pace, providing researchers fast access to the right, high-quality biospecimens will be crucial to helping them execute on new ways of understanding, diagnosing and treating this disease.”

Mayo Clinic has a strong history in biobanking, which is reflected in their recent funding award of $142 million over five years by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to serve as the national Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program Biobank.. This biobank will hold the research repository of biospecimens for the longitudinal program that aims to enroll one million or more U.S. participants to better understand individual differences that contribute to health and disease to advance precision medicine.

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