An innovative and user-friendly system
The Biosample Hub platform includes three main components:
- Biobank Directory: contains the organisation name and the disease types represented in the collection. There are now approximetely 40 academic biobanks in this directory. 100% are keen to work with industry.
- Company Directory: contains the organisation name and the disease types of interest. Allows biobanks to find companies they may be interested in partnering with.
- Requests Directory: gives details of specific biospecimen procurement requests, with full details including inclusion and exclusion criteria.
This platform make it possible for members to connect in multiple ways. For example, a company member who finds a biobank directory entry interesting can send a message to the biobank on the platform. Another way is for the company to complete a request form for samples and and place this in the request directory and also have it directed to relevant biobanks. A unique feature of this platform is that biobank members can also connect with companies. A biobank member that finds an entry in the company directory interesting, can also send a message on the platform to make a connection.
The directories have a user-friendly design, with many useful features. For example:
- Users can take ownership of their own directory entries and can update at any time to keep information current.
- Users can enter an unlimited number of ‘disease strengths’ for their biobank (ie. well represented diseases). Disease names are chosen from a searchable dropdown ICD-10-based list.
- Users can search the directory for either biobanks or companies. They can search by country and city, and they can filter by general disease scope, by specific disease focus and other features if required.
For each organisation there is a Google map showing its location.
The directory has a flexible design which allows for additional features like the following to be added:
- an endorsements module
- a multi-lingual translation module
- linkages between directories to increase functionality
The Biosample Hub platform is password protected and all users have been checked to ensure that they represent bona fide organisations that are accurately represented on the platform. So any communications received on the platform should only come from organisations that have been vetted.
Email addresses are hidden on the platform and users communicate by a messaging system that does not require the use of emails.
All request forms displayed on the Noticeboard are de-identified to protect any confidential information.
Comparison with Other Systems
Many companies depend on commercial intermediaries to source biospecimens (see Model 1). This introduces a degree of separation between provider and end-user. Obviously, this separation must be maintained to avoid circumvention of the intermediary.
An alternative is to source biospecimens directly, but this requires time and effort. Larger companies may have teams of dedicated sample procurement staff who can source biospecimens direct from hospitals and biobanks. They may use public biobank directories (Model 2), or may have existing networks of trusted biobanks built up over many years. Unfortunately, this approach is not ideal for start-ups and smaller companies (SMEs).
Biosample Hub provides another alternative (Model 3). Here the requester and provider can make a direct connection and furthermore, this connection can be made in either direction, by either party.