Objective: To collect information on biobanking facilities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as a first step towards establishing an LMIC biobank and cohort building network (BCNet) to support research, with a focus on cancer control.
Method: Sixty centres were identified from sources including cancer centres, universities, hospitals, and public health facilities and invited to participate in a survey between December 2012 and March 2013.
Results: Of the 27 centres (45%) that responded, most have existed for <10 years. They store between 1,000 and 1,000,000 research samples as well as samples remaining after clinical diagnosis. Sample storage is mostly in freezers, although 45% (9/20) of the centres do not have regular access to electricity. Biobank managers, sample management systems, and mechanisms for follow-up using linkages are uncommon. Many (80%; 21/26) of the centres have regulations to govern research, but regulations for the use of biobank resources (samples and data) are not well developed.
Conclusions: Biobanking facilities are being developed in LMICs. Shortcomings in international visibility, sample sharing regulations, standardization, quality assurance, and sample management systems could be alleviated by international networking. Stakeholders need to work together to increase access to high-quality biological resources for scientific research.