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A Classification and Comparative Study of European Biobanks: an Analysis of Biobanking Activity and its Contribution to Scientific Progress

Asterios Arampatzis, Ioanna Papagiouvanni, Doxakis Anestakis, Magda Tsolaki

The term “biobank” denotes a collection of samples brought together for use in research. These repositories of biological specimens have witnessed an exponential increase in their number, resulting in confusion regarding the quality of their infrastructure and the type of tissue collected. In addition, taking into account their unequal geographical allocation, problems arise in the interchange of material between scientific teams and these organizations. In the current study, we have examined a statistical sample of 56 biobanks established in 12 European countries, collecting data from 2 networks; Biobanking and BioMolecular resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI) and EuroBioBank. The set of entities under study consists of biobanks with a considerable scientific outreach, defined by the number of recent publications in which they had a significant contribution. Thus, we aim to provide a synopsis of the key characteristics of a biobank, which can be subsumed under the following categories: type, research focus, collected biological samples and location. Through analysis, the most frequent types of biomaterial used in research projects have been determined as well as a relation between the number of collected nucleic acids and the biobank scientific output (DNA: n=37; P<0.05, RNA: n=16; P<10-4). In addition, a positive correlation (n=18; P<10-5) has been estimated between the number of biobanks focusing in one disease group and their number of publications, indicating a possible relevance between progress in one field and the number of biobanks providing samples for utilization.