Why are donors needed?
To have an impact on human disease, biobanks need very large numbers of donors.
To be most useful, biobanks need to have large numbers of samples so these can be compared with each other. For example, biobanks that focus on one specific disease need many, many specimens because diseases, such as cancer, develop in different ways in different people. So thousands – or even tens of thousands – of samples are needed in order to look for rare patterns in people’s genes or lifestyles and how this affects the disease’s progression, and how different treatments may work or can be developed.
Other biobanks collect samples and information on an even bigger, population scale, and need hundreds of thousands of donors to be most useful.
Read more about different types of biobanks.
Biobanks are essential for the future of research into health and disease but they can be expensive to run. Storing and protecting samples uses energy and requires chemicals and complex equipment. They also need computer servers for databases to store confidential information about donors and their samples. So, once a biobank is created it is important that it has lots of samples and is run efficiently and used enough by researchers to justify these costs.