Biobank promotes the development of personalised health care, new forms of treatment and products and health through research

In the Biobank of Eastern Finland we are generating an inclusive collection of samples and the associated data of the population of Eastern Finland. This unique set of samples can be used to promote, for example, cancer research. Or they can help determine the relationship that exists between genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors when it comes to various diseases, and they can help gain a better understanding of the mechanisms of disease. Matching the biological data obtained from sample collections with health data makes it easier to understand the etiology of diseases and helps target treatment, and can lead to more personalised health care, diagnostics and medical treatments.

Biobank activities are guided by the Finnish Biobank Act, which outlines the rights of the sample donor. Patients are always entitled to refuse the donation of their sample without it affecting their treatment. The Biobank Act also states that the donor of the sample always has the right to know the purpose of the research for which his or her sample is being used. And in accordance with the precept of biobanking, the new research results are returned to the biobank, to be added as an interest to the biobank sample collection.

Participation in biobank research is voluntary

Donating samples to a biobank is voluntary. A request to donate samples for biobank research can come in a variety of ways. For example, in population studies a person can receive an invitation letter in the mail. During a hospital visit, a patient can be asked whether he or she would be interested in donating his or her samples, such as a blood sample taken during a laboratory visit, to the hospital’s biobank. The potential sample donors will receive detailed information about biobank research and data privacy issues, after which they can decide whether to donate their samples. Sample donors can also at any time withdraw their consent and prohibit further use of their samples. Samples collected prior to September 1 2013, by hospitals or in research projects, can also be transferred to the biobank. The transfer of old samples requires the assent of the Regional Ethics Committee, as well as the sample donor’s consent.