Extracting the potential of biospace

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Cells are stored at sub-zero temperatures in a liquid nitrogen preservation chamber
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Immediate access to targeted, suspended, and customized biosamples enables the fast pace of discovery for commercialization found across all medical and life sciences industries. “Precision for Medicine respects the value of biosamples and understands their importance in supporting the translational medicine engine,” says Jim Boshell, Vice President, Biospecimen Solutions at Precision for Medicine. “Our team has created a resource for scientists that combines expertise and infrastructure that enables ‘next day discoveries’ to leverage our critical repository with strategic patient access to interrogate and validate target biomarkers.” In short, the use of biosamples with deep data annotation makes research and development a business.

In addition to a biological repository consisting of millions of samples (see “The science of supporting a dynamic data-rich repository”), Precision for Medicine can collect vital samples from a network of clinics. “Our bio-repository, network of investigators, and specialist laboratories are what sets us apart from traditional CRO,” says Boushell. “Our clinical and biomarker expertise informs every protocol and procedure — ensuring that scientists have the medical information needed to enable biomarker discovery and use, thus enhancing the drug development process.”

Rely on wisdom

The value of biospace in a research study increases exponentially when paired with deeper analytical and medical history data. For example, a scientist might approach Precision for Medicine interested in evaluating a potential biomarker, but with limited guidance on which study groups to target. “Whether it’s a new biomarker or a new virus, our ability to draw on past experience enables us to efficiently and effectively solve the world’s dilemma,” says Buchel. “We are unique in the life sciences industry, having been in the field for more than 30 years provides a lot of wisdom.” He also adds: “It is this intangible element that helps you solve challenges that may lead to a dead end for programs.”

Jim Bushell
Jim Bushell, Vice President, Biospecimen Solutions at Precision for Medicine

When the COVID-19 pandemic gained attention in January 2020, for example, Buchel and colleagues recognized the imminent need for biosamples, which have been key components in developing tests and tests for diagnosing COVID. “We immediately shifted our infrastructure to focus on COVID,” Bushell explains. But the pandemic has created additional challenges, including people sheltering in place and the transition of health care to telemedicine. Thus, “interacting with patients in the doctor’s office is no longer an option,” says Büchel. “So our clinical operations and our regulatory teams came together, put together a strategy that we could roll out directly to patients, and we were able to provide almost continuous resources to scientists who are facing challenges in developing tests and vaccines for COVID-19.”

Research hasn’t stopped during the pandemic – it has shifted. Precision for Medicine is continually working to record subjects and collect vital samples to enable current and future science. “Maintaining the biorepository well with relevant diseased and non-diseased specimens is a 24/7 commitment,” says Boushell. “We are very good at what we do, and we are standardizing our processes to mitigate pre-analysis variance.” But this is an ongoing challenge. “The scientists we support have a peculiar nature – a nature that requires us to constantly evolve.”

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In addition to real-time patient access, Precision for Medicine customers can use Specialized laboratories To process vital samples in myriad ways: isolate cells, extract DNA, perform analysis using techniques such as next-generation sequencing, and finally organize and digest the massive amount of data generated. “Our long history as an outside biotech and pharmaceutical partner has given us a front seat when a new technology or disease emerges,” says Boushell. “It’s fascinating and challenging, and it’s what drives my team and I to keep innovating.”

The Precision Biospecimen Group Center provides one example of Precision for Medicine’s ongoing innovation. “Recognizing the growing demand for cellular products to support the cell and gene therapy industry in nearby Cambridge, MA, we have expanded our collection center and laboratory in Mansfield, MA to include the ability to collect packaged and non-packaged leukopaks, which includes a 4-hour process called leukemogenesis,” Bushell says.

Entering a legacy

In addition to tracking millions of vital organisms and their locations, Precision for Medicine also collects large amounts of information surrounding specimens. This information is entered into the company’s Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). “We need to maintain a path of accountability, a chain of custody so that, should an unexpected result arise in a scientist’s research, we can review step-by-step the history of the living organism and the individual, and record by record from which it came, giving scientists confidence and reassurance in their work,” Bushell says. “We still get calls from customers about bio samples that were delivered decades ago, and with two clicks we can access sample history and answer many of the customer’s questions.”

This legacy of information also serves to pull information from the past or prepare for future action. “Scientists often reach out to us for advice on study design or how to communicate with a specific set of topics,” Buchel says. “Often, we have biosamples from collections in the biorepository, but when we don’t, we offer customers the service of using our network to activate the study.”

Looking at the long term

“We aim to be partners with our customers,” Buchel says. “Our industry is modest in size, and the scientists we supported 5-10 years ago are often today’s CEOs or CSOs in the biotech field with a popular treatment.” “We see it often enough to know and appreciate each interaction as a future opportunity,” he adds.

Overall, Precision for Medicine’s network of clinical and laboratory professionals makes data generation easy and reliable. These are unique abilities in an increasingly complex world of collecting and creating value from living things.

Learn more about precision medicine and his Bio-Sampling Solutions offers.

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