Purpose of review: Biobanking has been identified as a key area for development in order to accelerate the discovery and development of new drugs. This review describes the recent advances in the field of biobanking and biospecimen research, with special reference to tumour banks which are the biobanks of primary interest in oncology.
Recent findings: There is a dramatic deficiency of high-quality, well annotated cancer biospecimens. Biospecimen research is a fast developing field that will improve biobanking methodology and biobanking is becoming more professionally organized with increased attention to quality management. Biobank networks are developing rapidly in order to combine and share resources.
Summary: Biobanking services must improve rapidly to serve the needs of personalized medicine and biospecimen research should be encouraged and supported at all levels from project funding to publication of results. Biobanks need to be run to high professional standards and the importance of adequate funding, training and certification must be emphasized. The growing presence of national and international biobank networks will allow biobanks to synergize. The development of a biobanking community will facilitate teamwork to overcome common challenges and enhance communication with multiple stakeholder groups.