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Access to patient derived primary materials has great potential for accelerating fundamental and translational science, via drug screenings, development of personalized medicine, and many more applications. In a biobank, donor materials and medical data are stored to be used in scientific research. The donor, or their parent / guardian if the donor is underage, signs a broad consent form, via which they give permission that their materials and data may be used for a biobank. The bodily materials that are included in a biobank can be collected specifically for the biobank, e.g. via a nasal swab, or can be derived from medical waste materials, as generated by surgery or a diagnostic biopsy. Because the bodily materials can be coupled to medical data, such as disease or specific mutation of the donor, they can provide powerful insights in specific patient populations. The biobanks that are embedded in the Centre for Living Technologies are so called living biobanks. They consist of living cells or organoids that can be propagated and expanded, and can therefore be used for many different research projects. Currently, the Dutch government doesn’t provide specific regulation for biobanks, so only the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) needs to be respected from a legal perspective. However, we expect that in the coming years additional legislation will be installed. The UMC Utrecht already made strict biobank regulations in anticipation of this. Within the UMC Utrecht, the start of a new biobank, as well as release of materials to researchers, needs to be approved by the Biobank Research Ethics Committee. Within the Centre for Living Technologies, there is knowledge available about all aspects of biobanks and use of biobank materials.


Heleen Sonneveld van Kooten