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The MRC DNA Bank: the story so far. ESF Workshop on Biobanks: practical, ethical and legal aspects. Uppsala 13 September 2002. Mission s tatement The MRC\'s mission is set out in its Royal Charter :

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the mrc dna bank the story so far

The MRC DNA Bank:the story so far

ESF Workshop on Biobanks:

practical, ethical and legal aspects

Uppsala 13 September 2002


Mission statement

  • The MRC\'s mission is set out in its Royal Charter:
  • To encourage and support high-quality research with the aim of maintaining and improving human health
  • To train skilled people, and to advance and disseminate knowledge and technology with the aim of meeting national needs in terms of health, quality of life and economic competitiveness
  • To promote public engagement with medical research

Medical Research Council

50 Institutes

and Units

UK Human




Resource Centre:

an MRC Unit with three divisions







MRC geneservice

  • Functional
  • genomics
  • Software
  • development
  • Research products
  • and services
mrc geneservice mission
MRC geneservice mission
  • To develop and provide at cost-recovery innovative functional genomic products and contract research services
  • for the European academic and commercial research community
  • to improve human health
key points

Non-restricted access

Unique genomic resources

Enabling technologies

Cost recovery

Value for money

Invest in infrastructure


Products and services

Functional genomics

Translational research


Academic and commercial

Public/private partnering

Key Points
business model
Business Model
  • Short term
    • Products and contract research
    • R&D via collaborations/grants
    • Strengthen products and service offering
    • Increase volumes/market share
    • Full cost recovery by 2006
  • Long term
    • Growth in internal research
    • Partnering/Joint Ventures
    • Develop IP portfolio
  • Moved to Babraham: July 2001
    • Non-profit government organization
    • Bioinformatics and R&D support at Hinxton
  • Commercial infrastructure
    • 32 staff
    • Operations/IT/Finance/Business Development




recent highlights
Recent highlights
  • Commercial Development
    • Business Plan: Feb 01
    • Premises at Babraham: July 01
    • Commercial team in place: Dec 01
    • MRC Board accepts budget and business strategy: Apr 02
    • MRC geneservice launched: May 02
recent highlights10
Recent Highlights
  • Product and Service development

RNA Service

1st academic and commercial Affymetrix Microarray service provider in UK: Dec 01

1st commercial deal: May 02

Quantitative PCR validation of microarray results: July 02

Cloning Service

Pilot production line of expression ready clone (mouse cancer ORF set): Aug 02

DNA Service

1st commercial SNP genotypng deal: April 02

National DNA banking award: July 02


C. elegans RNAi clones, ScFv library, RIKEN FL mouse clones, MGC FL Human cDNAs

global distribution
Global distribution

> 11,000 users in

> 40 countries

Web ordering system

Online product description

3 day turn-around

dna service
DNA Service
  • DNA extraction
  • Fresh frozen whole/separated blood
  • Mutation Detection and SNP Validation
  • PSQ; WAVE HPLC; sequencing
  • Genetic studies
    • Linkage and association studies
    • HTP microsatellite & SNP typing pipeline

Provide access to

        • Technology and analysis tools
        • Training
  • Genetics network
        • 18 collaborations
        • Immunology, cardio-vascular, neurological, cancer studies

Genotyping platform - TaqMan

Liquid handling Water bath PCR Acquire data: analyse

Current daily throughput


100 x 384-well plates = 38K assays

95% call rate (variable DNA quality)

100% concordance

laboratory information management system





Laboratory Information Management System


replicating re-arraying

recording reporting

  • Allows users to create a system to track a laboratory process
  • Allows users to define annotations for samples
  • Provides a repository for results
  • Provides reports
  • Provides an audit trail
  • Maintains need-to-know security
dna service work in progress
DNA Service: work in progress
  • Planning and starting to build a DNA bank
milestones on road to dna bank
Milestones on road to DNA Bank
  • October 2000: MRC funds 13 collections
  • December 2000: MRC calls for proposals for a UK network for DNA sample banking and genotyping
  • May 2001: MRC workshop on its initiative
  • July 2001: MRCg et al submit proposal
  • July 2002: MRC selects MRC geneservice as a DNA banker
13 collections funded by mrc in october 2000
13 collections funded by MRC in October 2000
  • Age-related macular degeneration families
  • Colorectal cancer cases, relatives, matched controls
  • Hypertension nk
  • Parkinson’s disease nk
  • Multiple sclerosis cohort
  • Asthma and eczema family collection
  • Acute coronary event families
  • Type 2 diabetes nuclear familial
  • Acute leukaemia MRC clinical trials patients
  • Unipolar depression case control study
  • Glomerulonephritis cases
  • Breast cancer affected sib pairs
  • Late onset Alzheimer’s disease case control study
  • 40K samples being collected
  • Each applicant already has appropriate ethical approval
  • Grant conditions require collections to be placed in MRC DNA banking centres
  • Most collectors have well-supported labs and international reputations
mrc call for uk network dec 2000
MRC call for UK network: Dec 2000
  • The MRC
  • recognises importance of genetic epidemiology in the post-genome era
  • announces its aim of establishing a network of centres
  • envisages network as part of the Biobank infrastructure
  • the network will:
  • have custody of large DNA collections
  • manage the collections
  • integrate data systems across the network
  • common standards and practice
  • pilot high throughput genotyping
  • Network resources to be made available to UK scientists
mrc call for uk network
MRC call for UK network
  • Scope of network
  • initial storage capacity: 100,000 samples
  • potential to expand to manage other studies funded by MRC - or others with cost recovery
  • “geographically clustered” groups encouraged to form consortia
  • long-term national HT genotyping service
  • Assessment of bids
  • Two stage review to differ from normal peer review process:
  • 1. consortia to express interest: experts were to select a short-list
  • 2. selected consortia to submit work plans that
  •  ensure “users” needs are met - including ready access to samples
  •  demonstrate commitment of hosts
expression of interest from cambridge
Expression of interest from Cambridge
  • Summary of expertise available in Cambridge
  • and of experience with large projects
  • Submitted from
  • 3 MRC units in Cambridge
  • 11 University of Cambridge departments (including two MRC 13 collector PIs)
cambridge application for mrc dna bank july 2001
Cambridge application for MRC DNA Bank: July 2001

Institute of Public Health

+ other Cambridge groups

including Sanger Institute

overall bank organisation
Overall bank organisation




Materials Operations

and Methods Committee



operations organisation
Operations organisation



Systems and Cell and Genotyping Services

Data Group DNA Group Group Research


work flow
Work flow

DNA Bankers

blood samples

Blood DNA Storage Retrieval Tests Analysis

Archive WGA QC/QA

Lines Operations

: automated steps (to be introduced one at a time)

mrc selects centres march 2002


Combined Application: Plan of Work and budgets

·MRC geneservice

·Centre for Integrated Genomic Medical Research

·European Collection of Cell Cultures

MRC selects centres: March 2002
combined application june 2002
Combined application: June 2002

The MRC DNA Bank service will comprise:

·organising with the collectors the despatch of samples from their subjects

·receipt of subjects’ blood or DNA samples (or receipt of samples from ECACC)

·extraction of DNA

·housing of DNA

 standard DNA concentration and DNA quality determination

questionnaire to collectors
Questionnaire to collectors
  • Questionnaire probed status of collections
  • - all at different stages: some not started
  • - some collectors query the custody status of samples
  • - different protocols
current status of dna bank
Current status of DNA Bank
  • Final negotiations are underway
  • MRCg and CIMR will use existing DNA extraction facilities
  • Standardised sample storage systems will be used
  • ECACC and CIMR will seek to improve EBV immortalisation
  • MRCg will develop and implement WGA
  • MRCg and CIMR will improve aspects of SNP typing
  • MRCg hopes to acquire an advanced storage system
  • Also MRC is to support a distinct collectors’ consortium
matters arising
Matters arising
  • Should a national DNA bank be set up before or after collections have been funded?
  • Should a strategic national project conceived centrally be selected from proposals conceived locally?
  • Is it realistic to expect ‘geographical clusters’ to form in preference to ‘expedient clusters’?
  • Is there an overwhelming need for a ‘network’?
  • In what ways might the network be part of the Biobank infrastructure?
  • How can we overcome the reluctance of collectors to share even an aliquot of their sample plus associated phenotypic/clinical data?
should a national dna bank be set up before or after collections have been funded
Should a national DNA bank be set up before or after collections have been funded?
  • Organisational factors
  • If custody of samples and data sharing is not readily resolved, then fund collectors first
  • Scientific factors
  • Our data provide evidence that HT genotyping requires consistent quality DNA. As [DNA]/rx falls with UHT genotyping, we believe this will become an absolute requirement for high call rates and concordance
Should a strategic national project conceived centrally be selected from proposals conceived locally?
  • This depends on the extent to which the project will directly innovate or discover: the more the amount of innovation / discovery anticipated, the greater the need for local proposals. A danger exists that local proposals may second-guess central conceptions so that the best guess wins.
  • NB: the distinction between ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ projects is useful post hoc
is it realistic to expect geographical clusters to form in preference to expedient clusters
Is it realistic to expect ‘geographical clusters’ to form in preference to ‘expedient clusters’?
  • Competitive bidding for funds will tend to favour the creation of clusters (i.e. consortia) that most readily create the strongest possible bid on scientific grounds. The Cambridge bid was mainly geographic – but not in the sense MRC intended. The non-Cambridge applicant is located ~200 km away.
is there an overwhelming need for a network
Is there an overwhelming need for a ‘network’?
  • The trend in large pharma genotyping projects is toward out-sourcing and toward complete centralisation. This is for reasons of capital/labour costs and data quality respectively.
in what ways might the network be part of the biobank infrastructure
In what ways might the network be part of the Biobank infrastructure?
  • The network will achieve harmonisation of procedures and ensure full interactivity of data systems. It is essentially a collaboration. This may meet some of the needs of Biobank.
  • We are confident the MRC geneservice DNA bank will have the experience, processes and equipment needed to satisfy Biobank – and others.
How can we overcome the reluctance of collectors to share even an aliquot of their sample plus associated phenotypic/clinical data?
  • There has to be a quid pro quo.
  • Well-supported collectors are more independent in their operations than less well-supported collectors. For the latter, a bank network has more to offer. One may predict that in future collectors – including the MRC 13 – will all understand the virtues of a division of labour.
  • Nick Day; Doug Easton - IPH Cambridge
  • David Lewis; Bryan Bolton - ECACC
  • Bill Ollier; Jane Worthington - CIMR Manchester
  • Duncan Campbell; Tom Weaver - UK HGMP / MRCg