German researchers kick-off National Biobank Initiative


Berlin – Germany has begun to cross-link and to standardise its existing registries for medical human samples and data (so-called biobanks) at five locations, to make the promise of personalised medicine a reality. Each of the centres in Berlin, Kiel, Würzburg, Heidelberg, and Aachen have biobank collections of several hundreds of thousands of existing blood, urine or tissue samples and appropriate medical information. The aim of the National Biobank Initiative (NBI), which will be funded with EU17m from the German Research Ministry, is to link the resources and to concentrate them in a standardised manner for generating a critical mass of information for biomarker research. In a first step, the centres will establish standardised SOPs, quality management structures, sample storage protocols and documentation, patient consent forms, encryption methods to prevent unauthorised access to the sensible information and preventing non-authorised re-identification of patients. In a second step, information from the biobanks, along with data about running projects with the samples, will be made accessible in a national biobank registry provided by Berlin-based TMF e.V., which will be the communication platform for the biobank researchers, according to plans of the research ministry. Until now, biobanks have been scattered and fragmented. Cross-linking of existing biobanks offers the potential to provide access for researchers to a critical mass of bio-specimens for analysing disease pathways, biomarker-based patient stratification and identification of novel drug targets and molecular diagnostics. However, there are many challenges that will be now solved within the 5 biobank clusters. Additionally, Germany has started an initiative for a National Cohort that aims at organising a prospective study on 200,000 people, aged from 20-69, to identify disease markers. The initiatives aims to provide links to the European BBMRI initiative which aims to link up all major existing European biobanks. One day before the kick-off meeting of the 5 biobank centres, TMF and the German Ethics Council had re-opened a political debate on the best way to protect the personal data linked to biobanks while ensuring medical progress. While the Ethics Council favours the establishment of a biobank law, Germany's largest research funding organisation DFG favoured a self-regulation mechanism. Up to now it is unclear which approach will provide the best results.



The first of February marked a milestone for Leverkusen-based Bio­frontera AG in more ways than one. It was the first day that Ameluz, the firm’s first approved product, could be sold in German pharmacies. It was also the date...



Darmstadt – German pharmaceutical and chemical company Merck KGaA has set a downbeat tone for 2012. CEO Karl-Ludwig Kley said the recently launched cost-cutting programme and tough economic conditions will weigh on profits this...



Mainz/Leuna – Two biotech concepts were amongst the winners of the recent third round of the Excellence Cluster initiative, which is funded by the German Ministry for Research. In Mainz the champagne corks popped especially loud...



German Merck KGaA has closed a licencing agreement with US-based Threshold Pharmaceuticals Inc. The cooperation centres around the hypoxia­-activated drug TH-302, which is currently being studied in a global Phase III study....



Munich – Looking back with satisfaction and bent on a prize for good behaviour, German biopharmaceutical company Wilex AG reported yesterday on the fiscal year 2011 and outlined the shores in sight. The 2011 total revenue was...



Brussels – European cartilage researchers intensify their cooperation. The 'gristle network' comprises scientists from Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg. Its members plan to meet regularly to exchange views and information...


Thousand Oaks/Munich - Bling bling for blinatumomab. It is a compliment for the European life sciences scene and sad news at the same time. Amgen Inc., the world's largest biotechnology company, agreed to buy Micromet Inc., an...



Martinsried - SHELTER is responsible for the fact that the stocks of 4SC behaved like a rodeo horse on Thursday. The shares rose in several stages up to 63%, only to settle at a mere 43% rise at the end of the day. SHELTER is a...



Ludwigshafen – BASF Plant Science GmbH, the agrochemistry and biotech arm of the world-largest chemistry company, thinks that it has outstayed its welcome in Europe. Over the next two years, most of the green biotechnology...



Munich - It is the accolade for Micromet. The German company, which is listed on the U.S. stock exchange, announced today that it has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the renowned US...

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