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development of important research projects

along with collaborations on a worldwide scale.

Organisations such as the International Society

for Biological and Environmental Repositories

(ISBER), the Biobanking and Biomolecular

Resources Research Infrastructure of Belgium

(BBMRI), and the European, Middle Eastern &

African Society for Biopreservation &

Biobanking (ESBB) now allow the set-up of

large cohort studies and large biomarker

research investigations. This research supports,

among other subjects, the development of

personalised medicine, the identification of new

treatments for rare diseases, and research on

genetic biomarkers, etc.

These projects have been made possible by the

evolution of the bioinformatics tools and

competences that now allow the exploitation of

large sums of data within the respect of ethical

and legal aspects.

How has biobanking expanded to

other parts of Europe?

The professionalisation of biobanking in Europe

has been established thanks to ISBER and

ESBB (both founded four years ago) and BBMRI.

The law institutions and the growing number of

scientific publications enable the development

of European projects and a way to advance

biobanking even more. Similarly, Horizon 2020

also plays a primordial role.

What efforts could be made to

better realise the benefits of

biobanking in the EU?

There are several steps that could be taken,

including the international normalisation of

biobanking activities. A French delegation is

currently working on a project in this area which

includes the participation of the International

Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Cell

& Co. In parallel, other countries such as Japan,

the United States and China, which all have a

well-established community of biobanking

researchers, are also working on this project.


he EU’s member states are judged to be ‘world leaders in

the development of biobanking infrastructure’, according

to a report published by the European Commission’s DG

Research and Innovation in 2012. Biobanking has become firmly

established within the continent, and large amounts of investment

capital are annually poured into these research structures to

realise the benefits to R&D.

DG Research has defined an ultimate aim of ‘linking biobanks together

as part of a pan-European infrastructure to support medical research

and healthcare’, citing the importance of continued investment to realise

‘long term growth of the medical field of the Life Sciences’. According to

the Commission, such financing will assist in developing Europe’s

innovative edge in drug development, medical research and the delivery

of healthcare.

To explore the latest advances in biobanking, Portal spoke to Cell & Co’s

Florent Belon and Sofien Dessolin, the joint chief executives running

Europe’s first ecobiobanks. They set out their thoughts on how the

positives of biobanking can be better realised, the role of Horizon 2020,

and how biobanking will develop over the next five years.

What have been the latest developments in regards to

biobanking and related sectorial technology?

Biobanking and related sectorial technology have been well developed

during the past two decades; 20% of the French population now know

the term ‘biobanking’, compared to almost none in 2000. The latest

developments are technological, with the democratisation of matrix cryo

vials. There are also automation and organisational changes with the


H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L



Biobanking benefits

Florent Belon

, managing director of Cell & Co Biorepository, explains the

challenges that now face the biobanking sector, including standardisation, and

what benefits Horizon 2020 can bring

Florent Belon

Sofien Dessolin

Recognition of the

term ‘biobanking’ is on

the rise in France