BioServe: One of the Largest Commercial Biobanks in the World

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Video title: BioServe: One of the Largest Commercial Biobanks in the World
Released on: December 01, 2010. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to Rob Fannon, Clinical Operations Manager at BioServe. They discuss:

• BioServe 's Origins and focus

• Biobanks,sample tissue data and focussed therapy areas

• BioServe network and relationship with Institutions

• BioServe 's positioning strategy with clients

• Recent acqusitions and future model of growth
BioServe 's Origins and focus
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BioPharm America in Boston. On this show I have Rob Fannon, who is Clinical Operations Manager at a company called BioServe based in Maryland, welcome to the show.
Rob Fannon:
Thank you very much, thanks for having me.
Fintan Walton:
Rob Fannon, could you tell us about BioServe , because you're an interesting company focused in preclinical research, tell us little bit more about BioServe ?
Rob Fannon:
Sure, if you had to characterize our company work closes to a preclinical CRO. The crux of our business really focuses on one of the largest commercial biobanks in the world. At present in-house we have about 600,000 samples these are tissue, RNA, blood, blood related products that was collected over from over a 100,000 patients, each one of these samples is associated with about 200 data fields, standard demographic data, disease specific data, so this really drives the value of our company today, our business model if you had to characterize it would be sort of a sample to data model where we'll engage our clients and everything from simple sample transactions to a little bit more of a long-term relationship where we'll keep those samples in-house perform some of the standard molecular services associated with that may be DNA, RNA extraction. We can do some genotyping work, sequencing, gene expression studies where we'll actually deliver data to our clients, so it's a really nice fit and that was sort of the historical back drop of our company that's service based organization.
Biobanks,sample tissue data and focussed therapy areas
Fintan Walton:
So let's just go to the biobank, because obviously as you say that's one of the key aspects of your business, so these are tissue samples taken from patients obviously in a disease state who have now gone, who have been under a particular drug therapy or surgery and these are tissues obviously hopefully if you've surgery well they could be biopsy presumably as well, so these are samples taken then from those patients so you know a lot about the patients profile already obviously their names are still anonymous and so out of those 600,000 strong tissue sample database or biobank companies can select or you can select out on behalf of companies specific tissues for specific drug research activities knowing a lot about that tissue and the history of that tissue?
Rob Fannon:
Exactly, the real value of a biobank is not necessarily the sample itself, but rather the data that's associated with that sample and so these are not only just tissue but we also collect a significant amount of blood as well and so fractions of bloods, serum or plasma enables us to get a really comprehensive picture of that patient from many different levels of the tissue level as well as sort of peripheral activity as well, so a lot of our clients are very attracted to that sort of comprehensive snap shot of that patient if you will.
Fintan Walton:
And typically out of that 600,000 biobank or sample of biobank what typically are in there, I mean what therapy areas are you covering from those samples?
Rob Fannon:
Naturally from a tissue standpoint there is a heavy oncology focus well one of the nice things about our bank is one of the most comprehensive in the world and that we also have a significant amount of immunological disorders as well as metabolic disorders so we have cardiovascular disease for example, Type II diabetes also disease states like RA or psoriasis and this is really sort of a competitive advantage if you will a differentiator from us and that, a lot of the commercial biobanks are only focused in oncology, but we sort of have a nice sort of well rounded spectrum if you have many different disease states.
BioServe network and relationship with Institutions
Fintan Walton:
Okay, now when you source these particular samples is there a commercial relationship backed to the origins of that of those samples or those are just part of a transfer of that sample to you as part of a depository as part of the clinical trial, how does that actually work?
Rob Fannon:
Well the our in-house inventory was collected historically from various different clinical sites moving forward we have a big focus on working with academic medical centres that really run in-house core facilities, in-house biobanks if you will so we worked very recent, very diligently and recently announced what we are calling our BioServe network. So within our network at present we have relationship with Fox Chase Cancer Center [PharmaDeals ID = 34756], UMass Medical School [PharmaDeals ID = 36529], Windber Research Institute [PharmaDeals ID = 38074] and a non-profit organization called The Fairbanks Institute for Healthy Communities [PharmaDeals ID = 38075]. So our relationship with them enables us to not only gain access to samples that they've already collected at these various institutions, but also use these as collections statistics to perspectively collect specimens which is really a nice value for us because given that this is point of care our collection we can follow that patient and achieve longitudinal or outcome data the result of our drug treatment perhaps surgery, so this really adds significantly value to our company and it's also great for our partners as well because it sort of gains for them and entering into this commercial life science market in a very sort of a mission consistent way working with the company like ours.
BioServe 's positioning strategy with clients
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so when a company does work or a formal biotech company work with you, I mean you've talked about you know from sample to data and already there is embedded data associated with that sample and then there is the additional extraction from that sample and certain measurements whether it's looking at the DNA, looking at the RNA and so forth, so what would typically, how would a company typically work with you would that be based on a screening for drugs, would it be based on testing a specific new technology, tell us what is a typical way in which a client would work with you?
Rob Fannon:
Sure, here recently I mean with a lot of the buzz word is personalized medicine and tailor treatments and that sort of things. A lot of companies are coming to us to take their particular drug of interest or particular agent that they are evaluating to move into clinical trial and they wanted just run sort of a pilot study in collected specimens to look for some sort of signal efficacy of biomarker something that derisks their move into a clinical trial, and so what we think is we have a nice fit in this sort of emerging trend and where they can use our samples on a pilot basis and perhaps even collect perspectively new specimens that are associated with a different type of data to really derisk a very risky drug development process and so I think we are positioning our company in a very nice fit where there is this bridge between the preclinical drug development before going to first human trial. And so I think BioServe is sort of a tool for drug development companies to derisk a very precarious process of bringing new drug to the market.
Recent acqusitions and future model of growth
Fintan Walton:
Okay, and growing a business like BioServe recently you've done an acquisition, tell us about that and where that fits within the BioServe model for growth?
Rob Fannon:
Sure, well our company was founded in 1989, our founders actually spun out of The National Cancer Institute and focused really on just preclinical molecular services, our foray into the bio specimen industry came by way of a 2007 acquisition of a company former company called Genomics Collaborative [PharmaDeals ID = 27103] and this was a company that really pioneered the process of gaining IRV approved of the collection protocols in form of consent (indiscernable)measures to collect specimens the right way, and so that sort of put us into this foothold of working with high quality, high annotated biospecimens on the back drop of our service organization, so it was really complimentary fit, our challenge moving forward is to how do we broaden our inventory, how do we continue collect biospecimens on a sustainable basis and we think our partnership program through the BioServe network is one of the most sustainable ways to do that to work in a mission consistent winning mechanism for the partners as well to expand our reach, but without incurring a lot of the upfront capital cost to collect specimens right way, because it is an expensive process.
Fintan Walton:
Right, and the future growth of the company, how do you see that building just continued organic growth or would you look for more acquisitions?
Rob Fannon:
I think it would be organic growth and that would be first and foremost letting companies know the value proposition that exist today at BioServe from a client standpoint in drug development sector as well as expanding our network sites. And I think this type of model is something that resonates with the lot of academic medical centres that are already doing this type of work in-house to collect specimens, this is a nice way for them to help offset some of the cost associated with doing that, and so I think we've got a really good thing going with this network and I think we are going well with it.
Fintan Walton:
Rob Fannon, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Rob Fannon:
Thanks for having me.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Rob Fannon
Clinical Operations Manager
Rob Fannon , Clinical Operations Manager, BioServe
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
BioServe is a private company categorized under Biological Laboratories and located in Beltsville, MaryLand. BioServe 's 'biomaterial to data' model offers one of the world's largest commercial biorepositories and a full suite of preclinical molecular services and research tools to accelerate breakthroughs in genetics, drug discovery, biomarker research, and molecular diagnostics. BioServe 's Global BioRepository provides leading academic and industry researchers with access to over 600,000 human DNA, tissue and serum samples linked to detailed clinical and demographic data from 120,000 consented and anonymized patients on four continents. Utilizing BioServe 's preclinical molecular services, researchers can identify genetic markers, validate drug targets and correlate clinical and molecular data to accelerate the development of new and safer drugs. BioServe 's research tools division offers everything from nucleic acids processing, DNA synthesis, high throughput sequencing and genotyping, genome wide-scans and gene expression analysis to ready-made large epidemiologically sound case-control studies. BioServe 's customers include nearly every major pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, as well as top industry, academic, and government research institutions. Founded in 1989, BioServe has corporate headquarters in Beltsville, Maryland and Hyderabad, India.