International efforts to develop biospecimen best practices

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Apr;19(4):912-5. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-10-0058. Epub 2010 Mar 16.


Variables introduced during the processes involved in biospecimen collection, processing, storage, and analysis are among the potential sources of bias in biomarker research. International efforts are under way to develop best practices to standardize biospecimen handling protocols. In general, documents on best practices address three major recurring themes: technical best practices on infrastructure and specimen handling, recommendations on informatics and data management, and recommendations on ethical, legal, and social issues. There are many areas of agreement among various international efforts, but no single set of practices has emerged as a unifying document. The ethical, legal, and social issues are particularly difficult to harmonize due to the many country-specific issues that are governed by a variety of local and federal rules and regulations. Given the increasingly international nature of research involving biomarkers and biospecimens, it will be necessary to continue to cooperate in the development of harmonized evidence-based best practices. Several international organizations including the International Cancer Genome Consortium are engaged in such efforts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Specimen Handling / standards*


  • Biomarkers