An interview with biobank Lifelines about 2D-coded tubes (LVL-technologies)
Interview biobank

Written by Sebastiaan HorstSales Representative Benelux

Breda, 8 May 2023
Biobank Lifelines conducts scientific research into ways for people to grow old in good health. It is the largest biobank in the Netherlands and holds circa ten million samples of human biological material, including blood, hair and urine. The biobank collects, manages and shares data concerning around 165,000 individuals, which are stored in the biobank's own digital systems and in the so-called Lifestore, an advanced and secure cold-storage facility with an internal temperature of -80°C, where samples are stored. The biobank's data are made available to parties all over the world who hope to make a relevant contribution to healthy ageing with their research. 

Biobank Lifelines was born out of the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). In 2014, two LLCs were formed: Lifelines Databeheer BV, for the management of human body materials and data, and Medische Biobank Noord-Nederland BV, the work organisation. The biobank is a non-profit organisation with two shareholders: the University of Groningen and the UMCG.  

Given the large number of samples that the biobank contains, Lifelines uses a lot of laboratory automation equipment. This equipment is used to divide and store the collected biological materials in 2D-coded tubes.  

We asked biobank Lifelines about their use of 2D-coded tubes. Why did the biobank switch to using 2D-coded tubes? What are the benefits of this system? Learn the answers to these and other questions in the interview below.

The switch
The use of 2D-coded tubes offers myriad benefits, especially when working with large numbers of samples and high-throughput laboratory equipment. These are the benefits that made Lifelines decide to make the switch to using 2D-coded tubes. “The option to store 2D-coded tubes anonymously, the ease of random testing and the ease with which samples can be shared with researchers ultimately won us over. The tubes are also far more suitable for automation than any of the alternatives.” Another benefit of using the 2D tubes is that the barcodes are easier to read than any alternative solution. “A 2D barcode improves readability, which means data can be collected and stored much faster. The 2D tubes are also free of DNAse/RNAse and lead to cost reductions when it comes to storing and retrieving samples.” 

Working with 2D-coded products calls for a different approach than using non-2D products. “To implement the 2D tubes, we had to purchase scanners that can accommodate frozen samples. We also had to train our staff to work with these new products. With the right guidance, however, that was a piece of cake.” 

New supplier
Last year, Lifelines decided to switch suppliers. “We launched a new tender to determine who would be the most suitable supplier for us. LVL's products offered the right balance between price, delivery reliability and quality. For us, the quality of the barcode, the rack size and the compatibility with the automation solutions in our facilities were deciding factors. LVL-technologies scored exceptionally well, so we decided to make the switch.”  For Lifelines, the support they receive from their supplier is also very important. “The laboratory and the supplier/manufacturer work together to further improve our products and service. For that reason, we highly value the support they give us.” 

Given how smoothly the transition and implementation were handled, Lifelines can confidently recommend that other biobanks also switch to using 2D products. “We don't just recommend switching to 2D products; we consider it an absolute necessity, especially given the excellent traceability of the samples and the sustainability of the biobank.” Making this transition is a long-term investment and it is important to adopt the right approach. “Take a look at your organisation's current workflow and then devise a plan to determine the most efficient and effective way to implement the 2D products.” 

The current state of the economy presents certain challenges to biobanks. “The costs of plastic and electricity are rising. This forces us to store more samples on a smaller surface. Together with the possibility of a breach in the supply chain following a catastrophic event, this has a major impact on biobanks. Luckily, the 2D-coded tubes offer an excellent solution. They save space and there are even High Definition racks that can hold 138 samples with the same footprint as a standard 96 SBS rack. This increases your capacity and helps you save electricity.”