One of ASPREE’s largest sub-studies, the Biobank has collected and stored blood and urine specimens from more than 12,000 participants to date. Research using these samples may result in the identification of components (‘biomarkers’), such as proteins or genes that may help predict disease or even good health, in older people.
The ASPREE Healthy Ageing Biobank is the first of its kind with a focus on older people. Because each sample is associated with a wealth of information about each participant’s health, future researchers will be able to compare biosamples from those who develop older onset disease such as dementia and cancer, versus those who do not.
What does participation involve?
ASPREE participants provide blood and urine samples for biobanking prior to commencing ASPREE study medication (aspirin or a placebo), or within the first 12 months of being in the trial.
All samples are de-identified. The blood is separated into various components – white blood cells, red blood cells, plasma and serum and stored at ultra-low temperatures; all within four hours of the donation. Nothing is wasted!
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) funded the initial collection of 10,000 samples. Further funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has enabled the ASPREE Biobank team to collect follow up samples 3 years after a participant first contributed to the ASPREE Biobank. Two samples from the same person will enable researchers to analyse and determine the effect of aspirin on biomarkers in the blood or urine.
We would like to thank the more than 12,000 Australian ASPREE participants for generously providing blood samples to the biobank.
For more information:
• ASPREE Biobank brochure • Ring 1800 728 745 (toll free from a landline)
Frequently asked questions about the ASPREE Healthy Ageing Biobank
Where do I donate samples?
To reach participants outside these areas, Biobank staff are able to collect and process samples in a mobile laboratory called the ‘ASPREE Biobus’.
What is the ASPREE Biobus?
Up to 45% of ASPREE Biobank volunteers are from towns and cities in Victoria, Tasmania, Southern NSW and Southern SA. Given each sample must be taken, processed and stored within a strict 4 hour timelimit, this quick turnaround presented quite a challenge! The solution: an ingenious vehicle.
The ASPREE Biobank team designed a mobile laboratory called an ASPREE ‘Biobus’. We now have two in Victoria and one in Tasmania. Each vehicle is fully equipped to collect, process and store samples over several days at a time using a portable -80°C freezers. Specimens can then be safely transported back to the main holding freezers in central locations.
The ASPREE Biobus takes research to the people. Since 2011, the ASPREE Biobuses have travelled approximately 200,000K (five times the circumference of the earth)– from Melbourne into regional Victoria, up into southern NSW, north Victoria and across the west Victorian border to Mount Gambier in South Australia. The Tasmanian Biobus travels around the north western of the state near Launceston and Burnie.
In the future, the ASPREE Biobank could lead to the identification of specific blood components to predict good health or disease, to evaluate the therapeutic effectiveness of treatments and the discovery of new diagnostic procedures…… a resource certainly worth traipsing the globe.
What happens to my samples after they are taken?
Biosamples are barcoded and prepared for long term storage in a Biorepository in Melbourne. Future researchers will need to have human research ethics approval to access the Biobank resource. Strict scientific governance of the ASPREE Biobank maintains participant’s privacy. No individuals will be identified in the results.
How long will my samples be kept in the Biobank?
Can I find out my results from the Healthy Ageing Biobank?
Because of the pioneering nature of such research, information from these investigations is primitive, usually requiring rigorous and lengthy validation before it can be applied in real life. Therefore, early research into biomarkers is unlikely to be of immediate benefit to any individual.
In the future, if research uncovers any significant information specific to your health, the ASPREE Biospecimen Governance Committee may authorise access to this information.
- Monash University
- Australian National University
- Menzies Research Institute (Tasmania)
- Queen Elizabeth Hospital/University of Adelaide
- University of Melbourne
- Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI)
- St John of God Pathology
- Healthscope Pathology
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
- Monash University
- The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
- Victorian Cancer Agency (VCA)
- National Cancer Institute (NCI)
- Walter Cottman Endowment Fund and Equity Trustees