Mayo Clinic Aims to Collect 50,000 Blood Samples
In January, President Barack Obama generated considerable excitement among scientific circles after speaking at length about the importance of individualized medicine during his State of the Union address. Defined as the creation of customized therapies, treatments and more for each patient, individualized medicine will require significant research and technology to be successfully applied. Now, the Mayo Clinic’s biobanking program is collecting 50,000 blood samples with the goal of using their laboratory management software and other resources to help accomplish this initiative.
Mayo has requested samples from thousands of patients and expects to meet their targeted amount of 50,000 samples by the end of the year. The genetic data being collected will be used as a resource for Mayo researchers studying everything from diabetes and heart disease to Alzheimer’s. Already, one such study is comparing whole-exome data from people without Alzheimer’s disease to those from a group of people with a specific risk factor. If successful, this study could help identify protective genetic components that prevent the development of the condition.
Currently, 130 projects have been approved to use the Mayo Clinic’s biobank. Likewise, the organization has used its biobanking software to sequence the genetic codes of 1,000 samples present in their freezer inventory. While this whole-exome testing is expensive, the Mayo Clinic says the program is an investment in research that will benefit the future. To make this procedure more cost-effective, however, the organization is using its laboratory management software to identify samples that will best contribute to certain studies, such as those from patients with specific disorders.
The Mayo Clinic recently surpassed 44,000 samples and is continuing to seek participants. Attracting non-Caucasian participants is a major goal, as the clinic wants its samples to better reflect the face of the United States as a whole. The organization is also planning to complete whole-exome sequencing of 10,000 samples, and possibly all 50,000 at some point. While this goal will take time and planning, as well as adequate laboratory management software, to complete, the Mayo Clinic feels up to the task: their facilities can reportedly collect and store up to 15 million tubes.