Over the last 10 years, biobanks have become a staple of biomedical research. The ability to accumulate, catalog, and dispense a variety of sample types from a large population of donors, both healthy and diseased, has facilitated an abundance of new discoveries. Generating new data is so efficient that each week, the UK Biobank publishes a new study based on information obtained from its own samples. However, caring for so many samples requires not just skilled personnel, but also systems that can track and trace these samples without making errors. This has led biobanks to integrate practices from pharmaceutical and biotechnology manufacturing companies to ensure their inventory of samples is properly maintained and distributed accordingly.
As any lab will attest, organizing your bank of cell lines is key to ensuring that your research runs smoothly and efficiently. However, this is easier said than done. How often do students and post-docs go searching for a specific cell line or passage number, only to discover that they cannot find what they’re looking for or that they’ve run out of the cells they need? Here are 4 simple ways that proper labeling can safeguard your lab against mismanaged cell line banking.
Healthcare institutions tend to use diverse systems for labeling specimens, each incorporating fail-safes at different levels of collection and processing. Many hospitals practice the Swiss cheese model of error prevention, using multiple layers (or fail-safes) to cover up any possible holes, preventing errors from slipping through.1 When it comes to reducing labeling errors, researchers have identified several types of interventions that act as additional fail-safes, many of them incorporating modern technology, such as barcodes, radio frequency identification (RFID), and automated systems.
For Part 1 of the series, detailing the costs of labeling errors in the clinic, click here.
In our previous post we introduced the basics of how Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) works. We also briefly touched upon the way it might help researchers in the lab. Here we will go more in depth over the many uses for this novel technology in the research environment.
If you've read our previous blogs, you already know about printing and barcode technologies and the key role they play in improving identification, traceability and productivity. But did you know that there's another power technology that businesses and laboratories are using to accomplish even more? Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an established technology dating back to its earliest prototypes in 1973, when engineer Mario Cardullo first patented a device that could emit a coded signal in response to remote radio frequencies. Today it exists as a powerful identification tool used in a wide array of industries. It can keep record of medications in hospitals, allow authorized personnel in secure areas, and provides invaluable support to inventory and supply chain tracking. It’s likely that you’ve encountered this technology in your day-to day life, whether speeding through checkouts with your tap-to-pay chip, stepping through scanners on your way out of the store, or scanning your toll pass on the way to work.