In recent years, translational medicine has drawn considerable attention, with laboratories around the world using biobanking technology to study everything from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer. This research often requires extensive sample management systems to safely store and track the data being collected, but the facilities that engage in these studies often create jobs and yield information that can be used to create more effective medical treatments. For these reasons, the city of Kannapolis, North Carolina is currently planning to build a new biobanking center, a decision inspired by a new study researching disease patterns in the area.
Biobanks are defined as the repositories that collect, store and distribute human biological materials, including blood, plasma, saliva, purified DNA and other specimens. In many cases, these biorepositories will also keep a record of personal and health-related information connected to these samples, such as genetic data, health records, and family history, for use in various studies and research projects. Through the use of sample management systems and biobanking software, the facilities store huge amounts of data, which is managed, analyzed and later combined to support scientific needs. For the city of Kannapolis, which is the site of a $35 million project called the MURDOCK study, having such a research center in their area makes economic and scientific sense. Standing for the “Measurement to Understand the Reclassification of Disease of Cabarrus/Kannapolis,” the study plans to use biological data and samples to study the genomic links within and across conditions like osteoarthritis, obesity, and heart disease.
Currently, the samples being collected from the 11,000 area residents enrolled in the study are being housed in a biobanking facility in Kannapolis. However, the city sees this as just the beginning: with the help of the North Carolina Research Campus, an organization dedicated to using scientific innovation to help a community’s economic prosperity, the city plans to draw businesses and construct new biobanking facilities over the next several years. This could have a significant impact on Kannapolis, which suffered after a major manufacturer left town. Will the MURDOCK study help them turn things around? Will Kannapolis be the site of the next great discovery in genetic research? Only time will tell.