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Biobanks are infrastructures devoted to the collection, storage and distribution of biospecimen and the associated data, for medical and clinical research. The “biospecimens” are genetic materials, proteins, cells, tissues and biofluids. The “data” are the biological information associated to the samples. Biobanks represent a unique support for all those studies in which the impact of the results is linked to the number of the collected samples.

Biosamples should be collected and stored according to standardized protocols (Standard Operating Procedures - SOPs) guaranteeing uniformity of all samples of a specific type (concerning quality and biological integrity), in order to represent a good starting material for scientific experiments, as similar as possible to freshly collected samples. Therefore, biobanks are enforced to guarantee the storage quality of their biological samples, crucial for the outcome of subsequent studies. But biospecimen quality is also related to pre-analytical variations.

Accordingly, due to the fact that the molecules constituting the metabolome are generally more sensitive to handling and storage procedures than e.g. DNA, and that changes in metabolites due to residual enzymatic activity in biofluid samples can be extremely fast, CERM in collaboration with the da Vinci European BioBank (a research biobank recently established in Sesto Fiorentino – Firenze) is studying by 1H NMR based metabolomics the best protocols for collection, transport and storage of biological samples, with the final aim of distributing well validated Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for cryopreservation and biobanking.