Mayo to make cancer serum biobank available to researchers

Clinic has hired vendor iSpecimen to distribute samples to those who need it.

The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine is making its Cancer/Normal Serum Biobank available to the at-large research community.

Mayo tried to expand availability of the biobank by itself but did not have the funds to adequately market it, says Stephen Thibodeau, PhD, director of the bio repositories program. Now, it has teamed with iSpecimen, a human bio specimen collections vendor, to connect the institution with outside researchers.

Serum is a clear liquid, separated from clotted blood, used in blood typing and diagnostic tests, Thibodeau says. Serum is valuable in cancer research because it opens up a window into the body such as waste materials, nutrients throughout the body, lipids, and carbohydrates “and everything needed to operate the body,” he explains.

There will be a cost for the service but making a profit isn’t a priority of the initiative, according to Thibodeau. “We’re trying to capture the cost of what we’re doing and not worrying about making money.”

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The biobank has 130,000 frozen vials of serum from about 17,000 consenting patients, collected between 1975 and 1990. The samples cover 85 different non-tumor, malignant, malignant with no evidence of disease, and benign conditions.

Under an outsourcing arrangement, iSpecimen will manage the serum inventory and associated data through a cloud platform to match researchers to the right samples. The platform surveys institutions for the presence of samples and links investigators to an institution that has the desired samples. Investigators can ask for a specific type of serum or several different types.

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