Bio-banks hold collections of biological samples and associated information. The advances in technology make it now possible that samples are collected, stored under suitable conditions and delivered when needed. Bio-banks have multiple purposes, from preserving and allowing easy access to genetic resources, to helping medical research being conducted more easily. Bio-banks are mostly employed by pharmaceutical companies and academic laboratories. Research organizations in various fields need to store large numbers of biological samples in bio-banks. Instead of having their own internal bio-banks, pharmaceutical companies normally outsource this to companies that are specialized in automated bio-banking and sample management; professionals will see the samples through all the stages of bio-banking, making sure they are kept in the best conditions.
The automated bio-banking domain also concerns the government and academic and commercial organizations as well. All these institutions need large-scale automated instruments for preserving biological samples for a long time. These biological repositories can contain samples of human blood, tissue, plasma and DNA and be available for certain medical researchers to develop new ways of diagnosing and treating illnesses.
Bio-banking systems are designed to store for short term or long term biological materials, including human, animal, and other biological samples. The samples need to be correctly maintained to prevent deterioration over time, since they need protection against any type of damage.
Using special software, the sample information is recorded in databases, so they can be easily located at anytime. There is an automated system performing all tasks, so automated bio-banking handles all sample loading and retrieval tasks. The sample integrity is assured by using dedicated robotics for working in a specified temperature range. Access to individual tubes and plates is allowed by special sample cherry picking techniques that leave the other samples secured in their location. Dedicated software allows real-time video monitoring of sample storage and retrieval.
The automated bio-banking management systems are required to meet rigorous standards for reliability, sample integrity, also high capacity. The sample libraries usually contain from hundreds of thousands up to tens of millions of individual sample that require storage at -80Aï¿½C or colder.
The samples require careful management all the time. There also should be a backup plan to protect samples against facility power outages.
In conclusion, using automated bio-banking facilities is now a necessary must for every major pharmaceutical and biotech companies worldwide. However, it should meet several standard qualities. The operations should be easy and reliable, assuring the sample integrity; the samples need to be carefully managed and protected, software control and tracking should be available. The cost-effectiveness is also important.