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Automation will Represent the Next Big Step for Biobanks, Says Frost & Sullivan

Published: Monday, January 07, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, January 07, 2013
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Exponential growth in sample volumes pushes biobanks toward automation.

Every year, nearly 100 million samples are added to biobanks worldwide. Over 1500 bio repositories exist today and efforts are underway to automate the various sample handling and compound storage processes involved in biobanking.

The increased focus on preservation of sample integrity and biobanking efficiency is creating considerable growth opportunities for automated solutions.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (, Global Biobanking Automation Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $818 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach $1.4 billion in 2018.

The research covers automated liquid handling systems and robotics, automated compound storage and sample management systems, laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and consumables.

“New disease-based biobank projects in Europe and the United States, that focus on finding a cure for diseases, offer tremendous potential for automation,” notes Senior Research Analyst Divyaa Ravishankar. “As patient population samples surge, automated storage units have now been developed that improve biobanks’ capacity to cater to a larger number of samples.”

Automating certain procedures within the biobanking workflow offers biorepositories with vital technical and cost benefits. The prospects for greater automation within biobanks are being promoted by LIMS.

“Advances in LIMS have led to newer models such as virtual biobanks and centralized databank models which provide a platform for universities, biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms to collaborate,” remarks Ravishankar. “This will facilitate the availability of information to any researcher at any point of the R&D process.”

A key technological challenge at present stems from the fact that no two biobanks operate in a similar way. As a result, there can be no comparison of research results obtained from two different biobanks.

The quality, extent and type of clinical information collected with the specimens also vary from repository to repository.

A diverse and technologically sound portfolio will be necessary to support the greater use of automation in biomarker applications. Strategic alliances and partnerships with technology leaders, academic biobanks and small regional participants will further aid market development.

“Most regional participants have modular systems and a well-established distribution chain,” concluded Ravishankar. “Global participants, providing multi-component systems, could form strategic partnerships with these companies to leverage their distribution chain.”

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