In the fourth episode of “Biobanking Conversations,” Srikanth Adiga (CEO, OpenSpecimen) talks to Stefano Ongarello and Anna Mantsoki from FIND’s “OpenSpecimen Implementation Team” to understand their COVID related work, internal processes, training mechanisms, & best practices.
FIND (Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, Geneva) is a global non-profit organization driving innovation in the development and delivery of diagnostics to combat major diseases affecting the world’s poorest populations.
FIND’s Biobank has been using OpenSpecimen since 2017 to manage collections from countries across Africa and Asia and store specimens in a central biorepository in the USA.
FIND’s Role in COVID Research
FIND is supporting the development of diagnostic tests of all types, e.g., rapid tests. They are also focusing on testing strategies aligned with the needs of the population. Since there is a significant disparity of testing in various countries, they support strategies to procure tests at the right price and reach many people.
FIND has set up a COVID Biobank to provide biospecimens that will support these activities.
FIND also works on various data projects. E.g., they track the reported number of COVID19 tests done per country daily. This also helps in highlighting the inequalities across poor and rich countries.
Overview of Multi-Center Clinical Trials
FIND sponsors clinical trials to evaluate evidence of the performance of diagnostic tools. They have established a network of sites across the globe with standardized protocols. Some of the studies might also decide to bank specimens for later use.
“The complexity of multisite clinical trials is that the sites are not from the same countries, not even from the same continent. We have to translate CRFs into multiple languages. Data needs to be the same. We need to make sure that everything is done properly. ” said Stefano.
FIND collects specimens for internal researchers and other diagnostic development companies. FIND has a central storage location in the USA. The specimens are collected globally and shipped and stored at a central repository in the USA.
Decentralized Biobanking Network
FIND’s vision is to create a network of the Biobank across the globe to:
- Store specimens in local repository
- Provide specimens with less turnaround time
- Increase preparedness of biobanks to situations like pandemics
- Create a more agile model where specimens can be used straightway
Towards this, FIND provides funding and training to academic research institutes in Africa, South America, Asia, etc., to develop and adopt FIND’s standardized protocols.
FIND’s OpenSpecimen Usage
Anna Matonski (OpenSpecimen Implementation Lead) setups protocols remotely and trains the end-users.
“OpenSpecimen’s online help is very crucial while training a new group. Since the wiki pages are readily available, our lives are much easier,” said Anna.
OpenSpecimen is also integrated with OpenClinica (EDC system for clinical data). Clinical data is pulled from OpenClinica into OpenSpecimen, making it easy to find specimens of interest across both datasets.