Biobanks and biospecimens are critical components for many areas of clinical and basic research. The quality of biospecimens and associated data must be consistent and collected according to standardized methods in order to prevent spurious analytical results that can lead to artifacts being interpreted as valid findings. A number of international institutions have taken the initiative to develop and publish best practices, which include technical recommendations for handling biospecimens as well as recommendations for ethical and regulatory practices in biobanking. These sources of guidance have been useful in raising the overall consistency and quality of research involving biospecimens. However, the lack of international harmonization, uneven adoption, and insufficient oversight of best practices are preventing further improvements in biospecimen quality and coordination among collaborators and biobanking networks. In contrast to the more straightforward technical and management issues, ethical and regulatory practices often involve issues that are more controversial and difficult to standardize.
Published by Elsevier B.V.