In 2003, the Laboratory of Biomedical Anthropology and Neurosciences (now the Biospecimen Archive) was awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to archive a large collection of human sera, much of which was collected over 50 years ago by investigators and collaborators of the former NIH Laboratory of Central Nervous System Studies. The samples were housed in Rockville, MD until 2003, whereupon they were shipped to our facility under a Material Transfer Agreement with Binghamton University. The collection consists of serum from populations in the Pacific Islands, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and Caribbean.
Prior to the collection's acquisition by the Biospecimen Archive, the samples were used to investigate and discover transmissible infectious agents and diseases such as prion diseases, cytomegalovirus and Epstein Barr virus, influenza virus, arboviruses, malaria, measles, toxoplasmosis, oncornaviruses, and many others. The samples had also been used to assess genetic susceptibility to disease, the genetic structure of human populations, and medical studies for conditions such as goiter and cretinisim.
The collection is currently being used under IRB approved protocols for studies of herpes viruses, T-cell Leukemia virus (HTLV-1), dengue fever virus, malaria and drug resistance studies, genetic susceptibility to ALS, Parkinsonism and other chronic diseases, and investigating the strains of influenza that caused the 1890 and earlier pandemics. In addition to these uses, the samples have the potential to be used for countless other studies.
The collection is housed in the Biospecimen Archive Facility of Binghamton University. The facility includes a temperature controlled cryogenics room, an archiving laboratory, and a database management office. Every portion of the facility is secure and access is restricted.
The cryogenics room houses thirteen -25°C freezers and one -80°C freezer, dedicated solely to the collection. The freezers are alarmed, maintained on emergency power, and monitored 24/7 by the University's Physical Facilities division. Permanent archiving of the serum samples occurs in the Biosafety Level 2 laboratory adjoining the cryogenics room and the specimens archived according to an extensive procedural manual developed by the facility. Information on each specimen is entered into a computer database in a database management office adjoining the laboratory.
Procedures and Standards
All biological specimens undergo the same general procedures which are outlined in the facility's operating manual, a document containing standards and procedures for all aspects of the facility's functions. Procedures adhere to sterile technique and standard operating procedures for Biosafety Level 2 (or above) containment, along with operating standards required by the university.