At Mayo Clinic, practicing individualized medicine means offering each patient personalized diagnostics and treatments based on his or her genetic composition. A biobank, or biorepository, is one tool that researchers use to study how genetics influence health and disease.
Think of a biobank as a secure vault in which biological specimens are stored for use in current and future medical research. These specimens include blood, urine, hair and tissue from people who agree to donate them to the biobank. To increase the usefulness of these specimens, each person's samples are linked to his or her Mayo Clinic electronic medical record.
With benefactor support, Mayo Clinic has been establishing state-of-the-art biobanks, including one specific to vascular diseases. Mayo cardiologist and researcher Iftikhar J. Kullo, M.D., is principal investigator of that biobank.
To populate the vascular diseases biorepository, Mayo physicians present certain patients — specifically, those who've been referred for noninvasive arterial ultrasound examinations and lower extremity arterial evaluations — with the opportunity to donate DNA, serum, plasma and cell line samples.
In a little more than two years, the biorepository has grown to include samples from more than 2,500 people with a broad range of common (peripheral arterial disease, aortic aneurysm and carotid disease) and rare (primary pulmonary hypertension and fibromuscular dysplasia) vascular diseases.
"Philanthropic support for the vascular diseases biorepository helps enable research into vascular disease biomarkers, promote understanding of the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis and accelerate progress toward individualized medicine," says Dr. Kullo.
In addition to supporting the vascular diseases biorepository, benefactors have been instrumental in the creation of similar biobanks for bipolar and mitochondrial diseases.
Read more about individualized medicine at Mayo Clinic.
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