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Immediate access to targeted, annotated, and enriched biospecimens enables the rapid pace from discovery to commercialization found in the medical and life science industries. “Precision for Medicine respects the value of the biospecimen and understands its importance in fueling the engine of translational medicine,” said Jim Boushell, Vice President, Biospecimen Solutions at Precision for Medicine. “Our team has established a resource for scientists that brings together the expertise and infrastructure that enables ‘next day discoveries’ by leveraging our biorepository with strategic access to patients to interrogate and validate their targeted biomarkers. In short, using biospecimens that have extensive data annotation makes research and development efficient.
In addition to a biorepository of millions of samples (see “A Data-Rich Biorepository for Science”), Precision for Medicine can collect biological samples from a network of clinics. “Our biodepot, our network of investigators and our specialized laboratories are what differentiate us from your traditional CRO,” says Boushell. “Our clinical and biomarker expertise informs every protocol and procedure, ensuring scientists have the medical information needed to enable biomarker discovery and use, which improves the drug development process.”
Rely on wisdom
The value of a biological sample for a research study increases exponentially when deeper analytical data and medical history are combined. For example, a scientist may approach Precision for Medicine interested in evaluating a potential biomarker, but with limited advice on which study cohorts to target. “Whether it’s a new biomarker or a new virus, our ability to leverage past experience allows us to efficiently and effectively solve a scientist’s dilemma,” says Boushell. “We are unique in the life science industry, being in it for over 30 years brings us a lot of wisdom.” As he adds, “It’s that intangible that helps you solve problems that might otherwise lead to dead end programs.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic gained attention in January 2020, for example, Boushell and his colleagues realized the impending need for biological samples, which were key ingredients in the development of assays and tests to diagnose the disease. COVID. “We immediately moved our infrastructure to focus on COVID,” says Boushell. But the pandemic has created additional challenges, including the confinement of people in place and the transition of health care to telemedicine. Therefore, “interacting with patients in their doctor’s office was no longer an option,” says Boushell. “So our clinical operations and regulatory teams came together, developed a strategy that we could deploy directly to patients, and we were able to provide nearly uninterrupted resources to scientists facing the development of COVID-19 tests and vaccines. 19.”
Research didn’t stop during the pandemic, it changed. Precision for Medicine is continuously recruiting subjects and collecting biological samples to enable current and future science. “Keeping the biodeposit well stocked with relevant diseased and non-disease specimens is a 24/7 commitment,” says Boushell. “We are very good at what we do and standardize our processes to smooth out pre-analytical variation.” But it is an ongoing challenge. “The scientists we support have a curious nature, which forces us to constantly evolve.”
Beyond real-time patient access, Precision for Medicine customers can use its specialized laboratories to process biospecimens in multiple ways: isolating cells, extracting nucleic acid, performing analyzes using technologies such as next-generation sequencing, and finally organizing and digesting the large amount of resulting data. “Our long history as an outsourcing partner to the biotech and pharmaceutical industry has provided us with a front-row seat when a new technology or disease emerges,” says Boushell. “It’s both fascinating and challenging, and it’s what drives me and my team to keep innovating.”
The Precision Biospecimen Collection Center is an example of Precision for Medicine’s continuous innovation. “Recognizing the growing demand for cell 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 leucopaks mobilized and unmobilized, which involves a 4 hour procedure called leukopheresis,” explains Boushell.
Connect to a legacy
Beyond tracking millions of biological samples and their locations, Precision for Medicine also collects large amounts of information about the samples. This information is stored in the company’s laboratory information management system (LIMS). “We need to maintain a trail of accountability, a chain of custody so that if an unexpected outcome occurs in a scientist’s research, we can examine step by step, record by record, the history of the biospecimen and the individual. .where it came from, which gives scientists confidence and assurance in their work,” says Boushell. “We still get calls from customers about biological samples that were delivered decades ago, and with just a few clicks, we can access sample history and answer many customer questions.”
Such an inheritance of information works both for extracting information from the past and for preparing future work. “Scientists contact us frequently for advice on study design or how to connect with a specific cohort of subjects,” says Boushell. “Often we have biospecimens from the cohorts in the biorepository, but when this is not the case, we offer clients the service of using our network to operationalize the study.”
Look long term
“We aim to be partners with our customers,” says Boushell. “Our industry is small in size, and the scientists we supported 5-10 years ago are often today the CEOs or CSOs of a biotech with a successful therapy.” He adds, “We see this often enough to know and value every interaction as a future opportunity.”
Overall, Precision for Medicine’s network of clinical and laboratory specialists makes generating data simple and reliable. These are unique capabilities in the increasingly complex world of collecting and creating value from biological samples.