In the short time that AXT have been promoting OpenSpecimen, the bioinformatics platform for managing biospecimens inventory developed by Krishagni Solutions in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute, it has generated large amounts of interest in Australia. This has already culminated in the installation and commissioning of the system in the Lewin-Cameron Laboratory at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) with more set to follow.
Photo credit – Peter Casamento
The Doherty Institute is a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital and fosters collaboration between scientists, clinicians and epidemiologists to solve global health problems like HIV, viral hepatitis and other infectious diseases. The staff, numbering over 700, work together to develop ways to prevent, treat and eliminate infections, as well the diagnosis, surveillance and investigation of disease outbreaks.
When asked why her lab chose OpenSpecimen over other platforms, Judy Chang, PhD Research Systems Administrator replied:
OpenSpecimen is web-based, which allows for easy access from multiple sites, meaning that data can be entered real-time by nurses at clinical sites and by researchers in the laboratories. This improves workflow and reduces transcriptional error by reducing paper records that need to be subsequently converted to digital records. There is also no limit on specimen capacity which is ideal for clinical research labs that have high throughput demands. One of the main features of OpenSpecimen that was attractive to us is the ability to customise the platform both at a more complex level with the developer Krishagni but also by the end users. This meant we could quickly adapt to different study protocols which can have varied collection and storage requirements.
The main focus of the Lewin-Cameron laboratory is to understand why HIV infection persists on antiretroviral therapy, to develop new strategies to cure HIV and to define the factors that drive liver disease in HIV-hepatitis B virus co-infection. The implementation of OpenSpecimen will help their researchers to more rapidly gain valuable insights into these and many other areas and allow them to concentrate more on research and less time on administration and record keeping.
OpenSpecimen is an open access software platform. However, the Lewin-Cameron Laboratory have implemented a customised installation and directly involved the developer, Krishagni Solutions for this work and the data migration. Judy Chang said of her experience with the implementation:
Krishagni have been very easy to work with. There is an online forum and user guide available for getting general support from the OpenSpecimen user community and Krishagni staff. In addition to this, Krishagni have provided fast responses to email requests and questions. We did not implement a large number of customisation as we used the customisable capabilities already build into OpenSpecimen. Furthermore, Krishagni updates the software regularly and new capabilities are continually been made available.
The Lewin-Cameron Laboratory is world-leading in its field. As a result they collaborate extensively with researchers across Australia as well as the US, Europe, Asia and South Africa. With such a geographically diverse user group and a library of over 100,000 specimens, the choice of a robust platform capable of dealing with the vast amounts of metadata was imperative and OpenSpecimen was the most suitable solution to suit their requirements.