Biobanking: developing new treatments and tests for people with CLL
Biobanking means collecting, processing and storing blood, fluid or tissue samples from patients or healthy people. It is tremendously important as it forms the basis for scientific research that may lead to the development of new treatments and new tests to guide treatment decisions. Biobanking is a complex process that requires careful planning, attention to detail and stringent quality assurance. For these reasons, it is best performed by large centres that have a critical mass of experienced staff. Over the last 10 years, Liverpool has built up considerable expertise in biobanking as part of national clinical trials in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and lymphoma. This is a particularly challenging activity owing to its organisational complexity and the need for all trial-related processes, including biobanking, to be performed to the highest standards. The rewards, however, are considerable. For example, the Department of Health has recently invested £3.5M into reading the entire genetic code of ~750 CLL samples stored in the Liverpool Biobank. This will lead to some truly groundbreaking research.