Biopreserv Biobank 2020 Mar 23. Epub 2020 Mar 23.
Institute of Biology, College of Science, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.
Biobanking has become an indispensable tool for translational research and health innovations. While the field of biobanking has progressed and evolved globally, biobanking in developing Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries such as the Philippines remains underrepresented because of several challenges often encountered in these low- and middle-income countries. Recently, the Philippine government has undertaken enormous efforts to advancing research and development in the country, and one of the current research pursuits is the establishment of biobanks, with the hope of attaining more discoveries and innovations in the future. Given that cancer remains a leading cause of death in the Philippines, the Philippine government supported the establishment of a cancer biobank at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). In this study, we present a specific use case of biobanking activity at the PGH Biobank, to build a cohort of biospecimens from Filipino patients with breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer. This initiative is part of a biomonitoring study (1) to assess environmental exposures and possible risk factors in the Philippine population and (2) to develop a system of culturing human cells from Filipino patients for subsequent studies. We discuss issues faced and the solutions developed during the implementation of the biobank. Strong research collaboration, a funding source, basic infrastructure, and appropriate technology helped initiate this pilot biobank in the Philippines. Overall, the experiences of establishing the PGH Biobank may help other institutions in low-resource countries to set up cancer biobanks.