, Volume 398, Issue 4, pp 487-499
Date: 22 Feb 2013

Biobanking for research in surgery: are surgeons in charge for advancing translational research or mere assistants in biomaterial and data preservation?

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Abstract

Background

High-quality biospecimens of human origin with annotated clinical and procedural data are an important tool for biomedical research, not only to map physiology, pathophysiology and aetiology but also to go beyond in translational research. This has opened a new special field of research known as ‘biobanking’, which focuses on how to collect, store and provide these specimens and data, and which is substantially supported by national and European funding.

Purpose

An overview on biobanking is given, with a closer look on a clinical setting, concerning a necessary distinction from clinical trials and studies as well as a comparison of prospective sample collection with secondary use of archived samples from diagnostics. Based on a summary of possible use and scientific impact of human tissue in research, it is shown how surgical expertise boosts the scientific value of specimens and data. Finally, an assessment of legal and ethical issues especially from a surgical perspective is given, followed by a model of interdisciplinary biobanking within a joint ‘centre’ that as synergistic structure merges essential input from surgery as well as laboratory medicine, pathology and biometry.

Conclusion

Within the domain of biobanking, surgeons have to develop a better awareness of their role within translational research, not only on the level of medical faculties but also as nationally and internationally funded initiatives. Therefore, the authors suggest a platform for biobanking within the German association of surgeons in analogy to the existing special interest group for clinical trials.