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Biosample centre opens to help researchers find new treatments

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The £24 million National Biosample Centre will allow researchers to find treatments for conditions such as dementia and diabetes.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) National Biosample Centre for biomedical and clinical research has been opened today (28 January) in Milton Keynes.

The Centre’s facilities will increase the national capacity for biomedical and clinical research in the country. The facilities will be available to academic and NHS health researchers, as well as researchers in the broader life sciences industry, and will be subject to strict research governance and ethical frameworks, which include appropriate consent and confidentiality.

The Centre will help researchers and organisations overcome the challenges of establishing, running and maintaining studies that involve large volumes of biological samples.

It will be the largest facility in the UK for storing and processing biological samples and will create over 50 new skilled jobs. The Centre will have the capacity to store over 20 million samples at temperatures as low as -196C, to keep them well preserved for many years. The latest technology will mean researchers can monitor the samples from their laptops, wherever they are in the UK.

The Department of Health awarded £24 million capital investment to the University of Oxford, which worked in partnership with the UK Biocentre to launch the Biosample Centre.

Life Sciences Minister, George Freeman, who opened the centre said:

The NHS is not only a world class healthcare system but it is fast becoming recognised as a world class research platform for 21st Century medical innovation. Our historic 50 year clinical data and tissue libraries represent a unique global platform for developing new diagnostics and precision medicines. Our investment of £1 billion per year into the NHS Research infrastructure - and today’s opening of the NIHR National Biosample Centre - is a sign of the power of our NHS in research for prevention as well as treatment.

Dr Tim Peakman, CEO of UK Biocentre, which will run the Biosample resource said:

This is an exciting initiative. The aim is to improve health research infrastructure so that researchers can focus on the important stuff – their research. It will improve the quality of resources available for research, speed up generation of research findings, and reduce costs which will free up money to be spent on further studies. The goal is to provide the infrastructure to enable research and get those advances to patients as quickly as possible.