This week, two important events happened to the ASPREE Healthy Ageing Biobank. Thanks to the generosity of ASPREE participants, the team ‘banked’ baseline blood and urine samples from the 12,220th participant! So far, of these, 3000 participants have provided an additional three year follow-up sample.
Each sample is linked to a wealth of clinical health information collected at ASPREE study visits and from medical records. The collection becomes a unique global resource that may provide the bridge between an older person’s health and what is happening at a genetic or cellular level.
In the future, researchers will be able to analyse the samples from ASPREE participants who develop later onset disease, such as dementia and cancer, versus those who do not. Proteins or genetic patterns in the samples may provide clues as to a person’s predisposition for a particular disease, or a long and healthy life.
Samples destined for the ASPREE Healthy Ageing Biobank are de-identified, barcoded and divided into 64 aliquots (portions) in preparation for storage at -80°C or -190°C. Different components of the samples are stored at different temperatures; blood cells are stored at -80°C while the plasma is stored at -190°C. Not a drop is wasted!
The ASPREE Healthy Ageing Biobank team also opened a dedicated long-term cold storage facility to preserve the valuable samples. After months of supervising the build and transferring samples to the new facility, the team welcomed Professor Christina Mitchell, Dean of the Monash Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and Principal Investigator to ASPREE in the USA, Professor Richard Grimm, to officially cut the ribbon. (As our resident foodies, the Biobank team also provided a scrumptious afternoon tea!)
By 2017, the new, architecturally designed ‘Biorepository’, will house around 1.3 million samples in the Healthy Ageing Biobank
In addition, the ‘Biorepository’ will be home to biospecimens from a diverse range of studies and research undertaken across the University.
Monash University is leading the Australian arm of the ASPREE study and the ASPREE Healthy Ageing Biobank. To find out more about the ASPREE Healthy Ageing Biobank click here.