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HKSTP launches biobank and biomedical informatics platform

Image Credits: HKSTP, Press Release

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) has launched the Biobank and Biomedical Informatics Platform (BIP). These are firsts for both commercial and academic biomedical technology research and development in Hong Kong and set to foster biotech co-creation and commercialisation.

The HKSTP Biobank collects and stores high-quality biological samples for research and application. BIP, a cloud-based biomedical data exchange platform, is critical for biomedical solutions development and testing. The two initiatives are available for use by Park companies, as well as universities and research institutes.

The CEO at HKSTP stated that biotech holds the key to a future of healthy living and Hong Kong has huge potential to lead biotech development at a regional and global level. As a global city, Hong Kong is home to leading scientists and is strategically located to access comprehensive medical data that helps develop treatments suited to ethnic Chinese patients.

Around 150 biotech companies in the Park are focused on developing innovations from bench to bedside. The HKSTP Biobank and BIP provide the critical missing links that help biotech ventures accelerate R&D, collaborate, and ultimately commercialise their ideas into life-changing discoveries and solutions.

The CEO believes that the new initiatives will strengthen Hong Kong’s position as the ideal gateway to access comprehensive health data from around the region and cement its status as a regional biotech hub.

Secure and quality-controlled repository

The HKSTP Biobank is a lifesaver for researchers and private biotech companies, who previously found it difficult to access or financially impossible to set-up their own biospecimens library and biobank with a pathology lab, as these were only available in hospitals and universities.

The Biobank also enables researchers to share samples and access to tools like the soon-to-launch virtual catalogue, providing a huge boost to the community as it enhances collaboration and co-creation opportunities.

The new biobank has been established to enable biomedical research through access to high-quality samples in academic and commercial institutions, fostering innovative discoveries and improve treatment options. The facility provides a centralised system to collect, process, store, and share biospecimens from various research areas to facilitate biomedical R&D.

The Biobank also includes histopathology and cytology services such as tissue processing, embedding, sectioning and staining for research purposes. The facility has been set up and operates according to international biobank guidelines to ensure high-quality services and is operated by experienced practitioners including registered medical laboratory technologists.

Secure shared platform to centralise biomedical data for exchange and analysis 

The BIP is a cloud-based platform for biomedical data exchange and collaborations for researchers across industry and academics. It includes a data catalogue for researchers to find resources and initiate collaboration within or across teams.

The platform allows visualising, exploring and analysing data without downloading datasets, and provides secure cloud data storage and scalable computing resources for biomedical analytical needs. The cloud storage and computing resources are specified by the users on-demand. Researchers may create a project in a private workspace and perform analysis with ready-to-use pipelines or execute their own workflow/models through a container-based approach. Currently, 63 projects are being conducted on the platform.

Under robust authorisation and authentication measures, BIP data owners have full control over access to their datasets, and the platform provides data lineage tracking. BIP has been set up in accordance to international standards for data security and governance, for example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), a US federal law which requires the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

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