Revised human tissue and biobanking standards for the UK

3 April 2014

The Confederation of Cancer Biobanks (CCB) of the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) has released two new standards intended to help UK researchers create and maintain high quality samples and associated data, and ultimately improve diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Following calls for ‘a common set of good practice requirements for tissue collection and storage and associated mechanisms for assessing compliance’ and methods to widen awareness of and access to human tissue collections created in accordance with this guidance in the 2011 Funders' Vision for Human Tissue Resources, two standards have been produced. Both are intended to be applicable to any form of biobank irrespective of research focus (i.e. not only cancer biobanks or tissue collections), and in line with the relevant UK legal and regulatory environment.

The quality management standard comprises essential requirements and best practice standards, but makes no recommendations on how to achieve or implement these. However, it does note that the standards could form the basis of a quality assurance scheme to award a quality mark to biobanks found to be compliant with the standard.

The data standard, built around existing standards, is intended to support effective data sharing and communications between research groups, organisations and consortia, and has already been adopted by some. It is intended to be compatible with the creation of a single central data portal for UK-based biobanks to facilitate the identification of and access to samples for research.

The standards follow on from a 2013 consultation on an earlier, draft formand are said to have been substantially improved by subsequent revisions. The final versions are the product of work by more than 50 members of the biobanking stakeholder community, not only researchers, clinicians and patients, but also funders and biobanking governance experts. 

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