The FinnGen research project, which covers the entire country and started in 2017, made good progress, and sample delivery goals were exceeded.
HUS has committed through the Helsinki Biobank to deliver a total of 106,500 samples to the FinnGen project by 2023. In 2019, HUSLAB Genetics isolated DNA from 32,000 biobank samples, and DNA from more than 29,000 patients was donated to the project. By the end of 2019, the Helsinki Biobank had delivered DNA from more than 57,000 patients to the project.
In April 2019, it became easier and faster to conduct biobank research. The Finnish Biobank Cooperative (FINBB) unveiled the FINGENIOUS service with which a researcher can contact seven Finnish biobanks with a single preliminary query and delivery request, including the Helsinki Biobank. In December, a sample catalog was added to the FINGENIOUS service, allowing researchers to search for preliminary sample quantities in the biobanks themselves, by ICD-10 code.
The number of preliminary queries doubled from 2018; a total of 92 were received. There were 29 sample requests, nearly tripling on the previous year. Over our entire period of operations, we have received more than 70 sample requests.
We delivered samples to 21 research projects under the Biobank Act and to 58 research projects under the Act on the Medical Use of Human Organs and Tissues.
We received research findings (raw data) from one project, and the findings of three biobank research studies have been published. Links to the publications are available on the Helsinki Biobank website.
The authority to decide on delivery of samples in the biobank was transferred from the Chief Medical Officer to the Director of the Biobank as of Oct 23, 2019, which further streamlined the sample delivery process.
We offered sample processing services such as microscope slide cutting, staining and scanning through our histology laboratory and manufactured tissue cylinders and tissue microarray (TMA) blocks for 32 research projects.
We introduced a new and more powerful microscope slide scanner. We acquired an automatic system to be able to offer researchers DNA and RNA isolation services and began to set up routines.