Dr Maimuna MENDY – Developing LMIC Biobanking: The BCNet and B3Africa Initiatives

Qatar Biobank Conference, 14-15 March 2017

Dr Maimuna Mendy – Developing LMIC Biobanking: The BCNet and B3Africa Initiatives

Biobanks are well established in High Income Countries (HIC) and are rapidly emerging in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). Surveys among biobanks operating in a LMIC setting indicate that limited resources and short term funding tied to specific projects threaten the sustainability of the biobanks. Fit-for-purpose biobanks targeting major societal challenges such as HIV and Malaria provide an excellent basis for integrating biobanks with the available research communities in LMIC regions. But to become sustainable for the future and to contribute to the landscape of precision medicine it is important that biobanks become an integrated part of local research communities.

LMIC regions. But to become sustainable for the future and to contribute to the landscape of precision medicine it is important that biobanks become an integrated part of local research communities.

To achieve this, the cost of operating biobanks must be lowered, templates and regulatory frameworks must be developed to support local ethics committees and researchers must be given the opportunity to build experience in successfully operating biobank based research projects.

In response to this need, BCNet was established in 2013 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in close collaboration with a number of international organizations to address the shortfall of biological samples and data available for research within the next decade. This is being done by supporting training activities, providing solutions for newly established facilities and biobanks that require upgrading to support high quality research.

The B3Africa consortium in an EU-H2020 Funded project that was set up to support biobank based research by creating a cost efficient Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for developing biobanks and also contribute to the training and capacity building in the local research community. The technical platform called the eB3Kit is open source and consists of a LIMS and a bioinformatics module that allow researchers to take control over the analysis of their own data.

Along with the technical and training platforms the consortium will provide support for the associated infrastructures necessary to regulate the ethical and legal implications of biobank based research.

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