Monaco L, Crimi M, Wang CM
Pathobiology, March 2015
Access to biological materials is a key prerequisite for scientific research in any medical field and in particular for research into rare diseases (RDs), for which obtaining high quality samples and the related clinical data remains a major hurdle. RD biobanks play a pivotal role in making such materials and data available to the scientific community. In order to increase the effectiveness of RD biobanks, three major challenges need to be met: maximise access to rare biological samples stored in RD biobanks spread globally by the international scientific community, promote networking among such biobanks to share quality standards and procedures and allow collaboration with RD registries and databases, and finally adopt an efficient management model compliant with legal and ethical issues and ensuring biobank sustainability. The European program RD-Connect, funded under the FP7 program, addresses all of these issues through an articulated action plan aimed at building a network of European RD biobanks. Ultimately, RD-Connect will offer access to precious, quality-controlled biological samples from RD patients through an online, searchable, dynamic catalogue in the context of an integrated platform that links RD patient registries to biobanks and to clinical bioinformatics data for RD research.