Finland is one of the best countries in the world for conducting biobank research, according to Olli Carpén, Professor of Pathology at the University of Turku. It offers the opportunity to collect population-based, comprehensive samples for many disease groups, notes Carpén.
“Finnish people have a very positive attitude towards medical research. Consenting to give a tissue sample is a voluntary act to support the development of public health,” says Carpén. New samples are collected for Auria Biobank during normal diagnostics and treatment. More than 90 percent of the people who return the consent form agree to give the sample to the biobank, according to Carpén.
Biobank operations in Finland are based on the public healthcare system. The Biobank Act introduced in 2013 made it possible to transfer the diagnostic samples taken by healthcare professionals over several decades to the biobanks. Auria’s samples are especially used for cancer research as well as research on inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases and fibrotic diseases.
The country’s first four biobanks were registered this year and more biobanks are being established in university cities across the country. According to Carpén, the Finnish biobanks form a network with joint operating principles. The aim is that a research permit for one biobank will enable researchers to gain access to samples in all the biobanks. “The biobanks can attract major research projects to Finland,” says Carpén.