Purpose: Biospecimens (e.g., tissues, bloods, fluids) are critical for translational cancer research to generate the necessary knowledge to guide implementation of precision medicine. Rising demand and the need for higher quality biospecimens are already evident.
Experimental Design: The recent increase in requirement for biospecimen complexity in terms of linked biospecimen types, multiple preservation formats, and longitudinal data was explored by assessing trends in cancer research publications from 2000 to 2014.
Results: A PubMed search shows that there has been an increase in both raw numbers and the relative proportion (adjusted for total numbers of articles in each period) of the subgroups of articles typically associated with the use of biospecimens and both dense treatment and/or outcomes data and multiple biospecimen formats.
Conclusions: Increasing biospecimen complexity is a largely unrecognized and new pressure on cancer research biobanks. New approaches to cancer biospecimen resources are needed such as the implementation of more efficient and dynamic consent mechanisms, stronger participant involvement in biobank governance, development of requirements for registration of collections, and models to establish stock targets for biobanks. In particular, the latter two approaches would enable funders to establish a better balance between biospecimen supply and research demand, reduce expenditure on duplicate collections, and encourage increased efficiency of biobanks to respond to the research need for more complex cases. This in turn would also enable biobanks to focus more on quality and standardization that are surely factors in the even more important arena of research reproducibility. Clin Cancer Res; 23(4); 894–8. ©2016 AACR.
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