The Platform: Biobank, Company & Request Directories
The Biosample Hub platform includes a biobank directory and a company directory. It also contains a requests directory. Furthermore, it incorporates a networking module. This module allows messaging between all users of the platform.
The Biosample Hub platform includes the following components:
1. Biobank Directory
This directory contains the biobank name and the disease types represented in the collection. There are now over 40 academic biobanks in this directory. Significantly, 100% are keen to work with industry.
2. Company Directory
This directory contains the company name and the disease types of interest. It allows biobanks to find companies with which to partner.
3. Request Directory
This directory gives details of specific sample requests. These contain complete information, including inclusion and exclusion criteria.
4. Networking Module
The module includes features like messaging, inbox, profiles, favourites, connections, groups, and discussion forums.
Using The Directories
This platform makes it possible for members to connect in many ways. For example, a company can find a suitable biobank through the biobank directory. The company can then message the biobank. As well as this, companies can find suitable biobanks by placing a sample request. This displays in the requests directory. Following this, interested biobanks will message the company.
A unique feature of this platform is that biobanks can begin contact with companies. For example, a biobank can find a suitable company through the company directory. Subsequently, the biobank can message the company to get in touch.
The directories have an intuitive design with many useful features. For example:
- Users take ownership of their directory entries. Accordingly, they can update at any time to keep the information current.
- For each organisation, there is a Google map showing its location.
- Users can enter an unlimited number of ‘disease strengths’ for their biobank (i.e. well-represented diseases). For this purpose they can choose from a searchable dropdown ICD-10-based list of diseases.
- Users can search the directory for either biobanks or companies. In addition, they can search by country and city. Furthermore, they can filter by general disease scope or specific disease focus.
- There are three interlinked directories. As shown above, there is one directory for biobanks, a second for companies and a third for submitted request forms.
The Biosample Hub platform is password protected. We check all applicants to make sure they represent bona fide organisations. Accordingly, any communications received on the platform should come from vetted organisations. We hide email addresses on the platform. Instead, users communicate using the platform messaging system.
Comparison With Other Systems
Many companies depend on commercial intermediaries to source biospecimens (see Model 1). The use of this brokering system introduces a degree of separation between provider and end-user. Obviously, to avoid the circumvention of the intermediary, maintaining this separation is vital.
An alternative is to source biospecimens direct from non-commercial biobanks. However, this requires time and effort. It may be workable for larger companies if they have teams of sample procurement staff. They may use public biobank directories or locators (Model 2). Or they may have existing networks of trusted biobanks built up over many years. Unfortunately, this approach is not an easy one for start-ups and smaller companies (SMEs).
Biosample Hub provides another alternative (Model 3). Here the requester and provider can make direct contact. Furthermore, either party can begin the process by getting in touch.