IBBL (Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg) is pleased to publish today its new digital annual report. “2016 In Review” looks back into the year 2016 in a refreshing way and highlights IBBL’s key achievements. Broadly speaking, it seems that IBBL has entered a transition phase in its history, having become a well established, valued and trusted partner in biomedical research.
Quality has always been a key focus for IBBL, whose mission is to provide biospecimen-related services and a biobanking infrastructure for applied medical research. In 2016, IBBL successfully pursued this mission by passing follow-up audits for its ISO 9001 and NF S96-900 certifications, and extending the scope of its ISO 17025 accreditation* to 4 additional testing and characterisation methods. IBBL made history as it became the first biobank worldwide to be accredited for the next-generation 16S rRNA gene sequencing, a method that takes forward research into the microbial communities that inhabit the human body, known as the microbiome.
Together in Luxembourg
At national level, IBBL has continued advancing research in personalised medicine by working hand in hand with local hospitals and research institutes in areas such as cancer, diabetes, microbiome and Parkinson’s disease. The collected samples make a big difference for researchers, who discovered clear differences between people with and without diabetes in the way bacteria function, and identified a potential new tool to test cancer patients for therapies that overcome drug resistance. Other milestones in 2016 were Luxembourg’s affiliation to EATRIS, the European infrastructure for translational medicine, and the launch of the Luxembourg Society for Microbiology.
At the level of the Greater Region, IBBL teamed up with the Clinique Ambroise Paré and a private pathology laboratory from Thionville to establish the first France – Luxembourg cross-border collection of frozen tumour tissues, which can benefit both patients and cancer researchers. The project is a prime precedent for the tumourbank that IBBL is preparing together with all Luxembourgish hospitals and the Laboratoire National de Santé within the National Cancer Plan.
Another large-scale success is the selection of IBBL as the preferred biobank and scientific partner by EORTC (European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer). All in all, with 7 new contracts, 1 additional grant awarded by the European Commission and a high participation rate in its unique Biospecimen Proficiency Testing Programme, IBBL remained the central European biobanking infrastructure and bioservice provider for around 70 projects in 2016.
More than a traditional biobank
Besides the full range of bioservices that it provides, IBBL also carries out its own research focused on the quality of biospecimens. Led by Dr Betsou, the research department fulfills IBBL’s commitment to continuously improve the quality of its samples and services. In 2016, one of the projects explored the effect of 10 years of storage in -80°C freezers on thyroid cancer tissues.
Some others evaluated better ways to collect and handle biological samples, by comparing the impact of variations in temperature and delays during processing of blood samples on downstream metabolomics applications. IBBL also collaborates with industrial partners in the evaluation and validation of technologies, equipment and consumables. Its various research projects led to an outstanding number of 21 scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals in 2016.
Towards new horizons
2017 is bringing about new challenges and opportunities. IBBL’s move to a permanent building in Dudelange will open a new chapter in its history and will allow the biobank to increase further the size and diversity of its services and sample collections. Among the handful of thrilling projects in the pipeline, some will reinforce national cooperation in developing better healthcare solutions, while others will enhance Luxembourg’s visibility in Europe and on the other side of the world.