BIOTHÈQUE WALLONIE BRUXELLES

By unifying biobanks from Wallonia-Brussels’ territory, Biothèque Wallonie Bruxelles (BWB) offers a complete and virtual marketplace for research services and customer products. To accelerate and enrich your research activities, we identify together your exact needs in human samples, connect you with our corresponding biobankers and remove all administrative hurdles related to samples procurement by filling out all forms on detoutebeaute.org. We do it all for you because your time is precious. Within our single point-of-contact platform, we streamline internal approval processes, while providing transparency both to you and our biobankers. BWB also ensures rapid access to high-quality specimens and associated medical/biomolecular data, compliant with international quality standards and regulations.

Who we are working with :

About us

BWB (stands for “Biothèque Wallonie Bruxelles”) is an inter-university collaboration platform opens to all biobanks of Brussels and Wallonia’s territories to support applied biomedical research by providing access to human biospecimen samples and compliance with ethical and legal requirements.

BWB is born from the collaboration of 3 universities (UCL, ULB and ULg) and their university hospitals aiming at virtually integrating their respective biobanks. Each participating biobank keeps its legal structure, its responsibility as its position within the institution it belongs to. BWB operates according to a decentralized model with a virtual catalogue and a full-service offering both to academic and industrial end-users through its one-stop-shop model.

The project fits into the biobanking ecosystem at European (http://www.bbmri-eric.eu/) and national (http://www.bbmri.be/) levels and benefits from support from public authorities, Innoviris (http://www.innoviris.be/) for the Brussels capital region and DG06 (https://recherche-technologie.wallonie.be/fr/instituts/dgo6.html) for the Walloon region.

Why BWB

Due to increased use of human biospecimen samples for research and emergence of new technologies and/or new regulations, the availability and quality of these materials and their associated data are coming more and more into focus.

The needs of human samples are illustrated here within the category of the end-users:

Biobanks in the Walloon and Brussels regions are heterogeneous and each operates independently and in a non-synergistic way under the sole responsibility of the institution or hospital on which they depend. This heterogeneity is a limit to the development of research and creates difficulties in maintaining the standards of quality, confidentiality and security of these extremely sensitive data. In addition, there is no dissemination of the content of biobanks, or even their existence, so that today, researchers, as industrial players, ignore the content of most biobanks.

Below the main bottlenecks associated within biobanks in the Walloon and Brussels regions are illustrated:

Our mission & vision

Our mission is to create and implement a virtual network unifying all biobanks of Wallonia-Brussels’ territories to make available human biospecimen samples hosted by participating biobanks. We are dedicated to supporting all applied biomedical researches done in academic and commercial institutions by providing high quality samples and their associated data compliant with international quality standards and regulations.

Our vision is to be your favorite and intuitive go-to source for all types of richly characterized human biospecimen samples. At BWB, we see ourselves more as a research partner than just a simple biospecimens provider.

Our core values

BWB is proud of its values:

Our goals

To achieve our tasks, we have identified a series of strategic goals:

Our value chain

The core activities on the primary market result in the collection of human biospecimen samples and their associated data. The processes used to transform the primary materials to secondary tools (for instance RNA extraction, fabrication of TMA…) are included in our activities of the primary market. This enables analysis of biospecimen samples as an activity on the secondary market. The improvement of the release of and the access to the human materials and their data, as well as the consultance, coaching or communication activities are part of our activities on the tertiary market.

What we do

Biobanks are essential structures for the development of translational research in Belgium. After having illustrated the main bottlenecks associated within biobanks, it seems inevitable to optimize the operating modes of these infrastructures, on the one hand to meet the needs of researchers and on the other hand to ensure their sustainability.

The implementation of a dynamic strategy to anticipate the needs of users is mandatory and based on new modes of operations. Defining a strategy for biobanks to make their collections available to, searchable and used by researchers is instrumental to the fulfillment of the promise of translational research and precision medicine.

Our solutions:

At BWB, we have looked at some solutions to overcome all these challenges, as illustrated below:

Our milestones:

To reach our missions, we have settled 5 pivotal milestones:
riefly, BWB manages the virtual catalog of samples kept by the participating biobanks. Researchers can access it to find easily where the needed biospecimens can be found. BWB brings them also in contact with the biobank managers in order to facilitate the supply of the requirement material. Thanks to our network we can also help you to find an appropriate solution for requests that cannot be satisfied within banked collections. BWB ensures as well that the necessary approval has been obtained by the Ethical Committee.

Our services benefit to Big Pharma, pharmaceutical, biotech, in vitro diagnostics and big data companies, and academia. Our task is to support biomedical research for the benefit of patients by providing high-quality specimens - among others: blood, sera, tissues (fresh, frozen or FFEP), urine, saliva…- and associated medical and biomolecular data compliant with international quality standards and regulations - so they can be used in a truthful and reproducible manner to leverage your research or to pursue the development of your in vitro diagnostic or laboratory-developed tests peacefully.

How we work

Our modus operandi

Our front-office ensures the follow-up of your query from the beginning to the end and provides all the necessary documents to release the desired human biospecimen samples.

Transparent decision-making in their choice to participate in a given request

From the beginning of the pre-activation step, our biobankers have always the free choice in participating in a sample request. Once the choice has been made, our process allows us to update exclusively the ones who will participate from the ones who declined.

Clear and transparent overview on pending requests process:

Throughout the workflow to the end, our biobankers can visualize at a glance and in real-time the outcome of all the requests for human material with which they actively participate. This clear overview is also a service that BWB proposes to end-users.

Who we are

BWB is born from the collaboration of 3 universities (UCL, ULB and ULg) and their university hospitals aiming at virtually integrating their respective biobanks. BWB offers an interface between tissues and cells collections from human origin that are kept and managed by universities and university hospitals and the needs of the researchers.

BWB helps researchers from the public and private sectors to build their research projects by responding to their needs not only in terms of biological resources and data but also with our associated expertise (ethics, bioinformatics, safety and security, methodology, biostatistics, quality). BWB also promotes scientific collaboration and the distribution of techniques and tools within the network.

BWB is a part of BBMRI.be (Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure of Belgium) and a part of the European initiative (European Biobank Research Infrastructure (BBMRI-ERIC)) aiming at structuring Belgian biobanks and promoting access to collections of biological resources in Europe.

Our history

In the early 1980’s, scientists and researchers start to freeze and store sample in order to allow future research. The term biobank emerged in the mid 1990’s as the definition for a collection of biospecimens with associated data, exclusively available for medical scientific research.

In the 2000’s we saw numerous initiatives in the whole world of professional biobanks, including in Belgium:

• 2008: The FNRS creates a “Biobanks” contact group to prepare the Belgium’s membership to the Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI).

• 2010: Within the framework of the European Strategy for Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) programs, Minister Nollet’s Cabinet identifies biobanking as a priority in Wallonia and asks a working group made by academic actors and BioWin to submit a strategic note to activate Belgium’s affiliation to BBMRI. The strategic lines of this note are based on an inventory of academic biobanks carried out by university interfaces as well as on the results of a survey implemented by BioWin on actors, practices, infrastructures and needs.

• 2012: the Minister’s Office J.-M. Nollet entrusts a feasibility study to PwC on the networking of biobanks of the Federation Wallonie Bruxelles. The objective of this study is: "To determine in a clear, pragmatic and detailed way the actions to be carried out and to quantify the human, movable, immovable and financial resources to mobilize in order to professionalize the functioning of biobanks of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, and of Wallonia to network them, by integrating the centers of human genetics into the device, to turn them into a powerful tool for companies and academic researchers and to enable them to join the BBMRI infrastructure. "

• 2012-2013: several working meetings are organized to consolidate views on the structure and governance of the platform as well as the needs of industry.

• In September 2013, Belgium became a founding member of the European network of biobanks BBMRI-ERIC. To ensure the positioning of Belgium in the BBMRI, a Belgian office (“Belgian node”) is created and includes the BVT (which has been installed in the cancer registry as part of the federal government’s cancer plan-PN27), the CMI (which was created by the Flemish Region) and BWB, the subject of this project.

• 2014, the BWB project is submitted and funded by DG06 and Innoviris with the objective of providing a virtual catalogue of biospecimens that is not limited to cancer, but facilitates research on other diseases as well.

• October 2017: Brussels region (Innoviris) is continuing his financial support to BWB allowing us to pursue our goals and missions.

Our connections

Disruptive innovation, emerging technologies, new tools in biobanking ecosystem, new business models, and globalization has accelerated the rate of change for every business. To stay competitive and sustain key activities, organizations are revising business models and other critical aspects of their operations on a much more frequent and continuous basis. This access to every moment in time and space offers opportunities to serve at best customers in ways never before envisioned. That’s the reason why at BWB we believe that be part of something bigger brings assets in our activities. The main BWB’s connexions are with the following institutions/organizations based on regular membership for BWB or as individual member of our team members.

Our team

The front-office

Laurent Dollé
Managing Director BWB

Raffaella Antonacci
Biobank Coordinator

Fabienne George
Biobank Coordinator

Flavienne Sandras
Biobank Coordinator

Stéphanie Gofflot
Biobank Coordinator

Ligia Cracium
Biobank Coordinator

Maxime Lorent
Biobank Coordinator

Ahmad Mehri
Biobank Coordinator

Céline Flahaut
Biobank Coordinator

Ilse Gutierrez-Roelens
Biobank Coordinator

The steering committee

Laurent Dollé
Managing Director BWB

Etienne Marbaix
UCL

Isabelle Salmon
ULB

Philippe Delvenne
ULg

Xavier Hulhoven
Innoviris

Pierre Demoitié
DG06

Marianne Gyhoot
BioWin

The extended steering committee

Laurent Dollé
Managing Director BWB

Etienne Marbaix
UCL

Isabelle Salmon
ULB

Philippe Delvenne
ULg

Xavier Hulhoven
Innoviris

Pierre Demoitié
DG06

Yves Beguin
ULg

Marianne Gyhoot
BioWin

Raffaella Antonacci
Biobank Coordinator

Fabienne George
Biobank Coordinator

Carlos Graux
Biobank Manager

Flavienne Sandras
Biobank Coordinator

Sabine Cornelis
Biobank Assit.Coordinator

Stéphanie Gofflot
Biobank Coordinator

Ligia Cracium
Biobank Coordinator

Denis Larsimont
Biobank Manager

Maxime Lorent
Biobank Coordinator

Ruth Duttmann
Biobank Manager

Ahmad Mehri
Biobank Coordinator

Paul Delrée
Biobank Manager

Nathalie Nagy
Biobank Manager

Céline Flahaut
Biobank Coordinator

Bertrand Blankert
Biobank Manager

Marlène Genlain
Biobank Coordinator

Biospecimen procurement

BWB manages the virtual catalog of samples kept by the participating biobanks. Researchers can access it to find easily where the needed biospecimens can be found. BWB brings them also in contact with the biobank managers in order to facilitate the supply of the requirement material. BWB and its partners can also help to find an appropriate solution for requests that cannot be satisfied within existing collections. All services provided by the biobanks of our network are in accordance with current EU directives and the applicable national laws and BWB ensures that the necessary approval has been obtained by the Ethical Committee as well.

Our quality commitment

The use of standardized procedures for the collection, preparation, storage and redistribution on biospecimen samples is necessary so that scientists receive samples that can be used in a reproducible manner. Pre-analytical variations can be eliminated by standardization and validation of procedures ensuring the quality of the downstream biomedical research thereby providing reliable test results.

Our daily concern: guarantee the quality and usability of all biospecimens for research projects.

Our samples are perfectly handled according to current technical standards and operations from our biobanks network, which are run under the control of a well-defined Quality Management System, and in line with law and regulation and ethical principles of human dignity. Furthermore, the best practitioners have studied them in order to establish a reliable diagnostic.

Our quality management is supported by the 4 following pillars:

BWB is a member of the BBMRI-ERIC as one of the 3 network biobank initiatives of the Belgian node (BBMRI.be) and is an active partner in different activities, such as Quality WG (working group). This participation allows BWB to follow the BBMRI-ERIC strategy and adapt it to its networks needs.

For more details about BWB’s Quality Management System, please read our Quality Manual.

Guidance for biobanks

For more information on human biospecimens as biobank manager, some guidelines already published are mandatory to scrutinize in order to support and enrich your activities and your knowledge in biobanking field. The list is not extensive, and we have them sumarized for you right here:

At BWB, we also advise you to follow very closely the elements highlighted below since they will allow you to enhance your biobank, its underlying activities or even its existence:

Our ethics

We work with national and international authorities/institutions to ensure that the collection and use of samples and data conform to high ethical standards and safeguard the privacy of the donor.

All human biospecimen samples provided by our biobanks have been obtained according to the legal requirements and with the approval of an ethics committee. Every donor has the right to withdraw their consent at any time, in which case all of the unused samples will be destroyed and related data deleted. All of our donors’ identities are kept strictly confidential and our data secured. The patient’s right to high quality medical care is the priority at all times, with the access to donated tissues being secondary to their medical treatment.

For more details about BWB’s ethics, please read our common Ethical Charter.

BWB’s Biobank partners have also signed the BBMRI-ERIC Partner Charter as a proof of their commitment to implement quality management and assurance procedures compliant with OECD Best Practice Guidelines for Global Biological Resource Centres Networks. Furthermore, various members of our network belong and actively participate to ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) WG of BBMRI-ERIC and of BBMRI.be.

For more information, go and visit both the ELSI Knowledge Base and the ELSI Helpdesk pages at BBMRI-ERIC.

For complementary information, BWB also recommends visiting BAREC and FAMPH, the Belgian Association of Research Ethics Committees and the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products, respectively.

Given that the appropriate reflection on ELSI is key to any biobanking activity, BWB is opened to receive any questions/comments containing uncertainties/worries on ELSI-related matters relevant in biobanking. Please, do not hesitate to contact us.

Our access policy

Our biobanks provide the provision of human biospecimen sample exclusively for scientific research and is not intended for human application. Biospecimens and data provided by our biobanks will only be delivered to ethically and scientifically approved research projects.

BWB’s customers use the human biospecimen samples we provide for:

Belgian law & human materials

The Royal Order (RO) of 9 January 2018 on biobanks, published in the Belgian Official Journal on 05.02.2018 in implementation of Article 22 of the Law of 19 December 2008 regarding the procurement and use of human substances destined for human medical applications or for scientific research purposes, enters into force on 01.11.2018. The RO on Biobanks has important consequences for the organization, functioning and activities of biobanks.

New rules are then applicable, particularly with regard to the procedures for encoding, traceability and donor identification, the opinions to be solicited from the ethics committees, the notification of the biobanks to the FAMPH (Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products), the data that the register held by the biobank should contain, the establishment of written agreements in case of transmission of human biospecimen samples, the rules relating to the collection of human body material intended for a biobank, the provisions relating to changes to and cessation of the biobank’s activities… In addition to the rules it imposes, the RO also brings into force the amendments made in 2013, 2014 and 2016 to the law of 19 December 2008 on the human biospecimen samples.

All rules that are defined in the Law 2018 and RO will only start applying from the 1st of November 2018 onwards, with 2 possible scenarios:

If your biobank is already collecting and stocking human materials and thus already corresponded to the definition of a biobank on 05.02.2018, you will have to submit your notification no later than six months after the entry into force of the RO (i.e. no later than 01.05.2019).
If the biobank is new (i.e. created after 05.02.2018) your biobank must be notified and compliant with the principles immediately before it is established and start to collect and store human materials.
The FAMPH is undertaking an intensive exercise, together with a broad panel of stakeholders (including BWB) to elaborate a Q&A document that will clarify the interpretation of the scope of the legal framework. This guidance document is expected in the coming months.

Impacts of the new legislation

The new biobanking legislation has consequences for everybody involved in collecting and using human bodily materials for use in scientific research. As illustrated below, the most critical impacts deal with the import/export activities by amplifying the number of contracts between parties, the high responsabilities of the biobank manager, the notification process and the costs involved in implementing processes to maintain the highest possible legal standards.

From legislation to opportunity

At BWB, we consider this new legal framework more as an opportunity than a regulation by itself. First of all, belgian biobanks are now playing a central role in research and development ecosystem. Indeed, any scientist who is willing to investigate his/her hypothesis with human materials has to connect and use materials from notified biobanks. It is also mentionned that biobanks can also extent their collections by deploying strategic axes with new partners. Being a notified biobank will also bring trust within the end-users and soon it would be possible to see the list of these notified biobanks on the FAMPH webpage.

There are opportunities behind the rules that will allow biobanks to expand and sustain their activities. BWB is here to indicate the paths and proposes solutions to our partners. This is the reason why BWB is taking actions and puts in place processes with regard to this new legislation to help and support its biobank partners and end-users in their daily-life. Some items of our actions are illustrated below.

Some solutions are also indicated here to support our biobanks network or even biobanks from outside. BWB would be more than happy to help you and guide you through this new legislation.

Biobanques et recherche médicale : la Biothèque Wallonie Bruxelles, BWB est née

Les progrès des sciences de la vie ne peuvent se faire sans l’étude de tissus, cellules et échantillonsd’origine humaine. A cette fin, ceux-ci doivent être conservés, traités et répertoriés dans des conditionsoptimales pour être mis à disposition de projets de recherche. C’est le travail des biobanques. Une activitédélicate et tellement importante pour le développement de la médecine et la pharmacie que l’UnionEuropéenne en a fait une de ses priorités1.Il est primordial pour la recherche d’avoir accès à des échantillons de haute qualité, en nombre suffisant ;ce qui requiert, en particulier pour l’étude de maladies peu fréquentes, de pouvoir accéder à plusieursbiobanques.C’est ainsi nous rappelle le professeur Boniver que de grands progrès ont été accomplis dans le diagnosticprécis et le traitement efficace des cancers des ganglions. Ceci n’a été possible que grâce aux biobanquesqui ont mis des échantillons de ces tumeurs à disposition des chercheurs.Dans cet esprit, trois universités francophones, UCL, ULB et ULg, unissent leurs efforts pour créer laBiothèque Wallonie Bruxelles. Cette initiative commune à laquelle sont associées les universités de Monset Namur reçoit le soutien et le financement de la Wallonie (DGO6) et de la Région de Bruxelles-capitale(Innoviris).Le projet de Biothèque Wallonie Bruxelles (BWB) consiste en la création d’une banque de données et d’uncatalogue virtuel des échantillons d’origine humaine conservés et gérés dans les hôpitaux universitaires.Ce catalogue s’ouvrira à toutes les biobanques universitaires et hospitalières des régions concernées, afinde permettre d’établir un inventaire complet du matériel disponible pour la recherche et le diagnostic.La BWB, qui fédère ainsi les ressources biologiques wallonnes et bruxelloises, travaille également àl’harmonisation des procédures de qualité, conservation et mise à disposition des échantillons.Les chercheurs tant au sein des universités que de l’industrie auront dorénavant un canal convivial pour larecherche des échantillons requis. Cette initiative permettra de renforcer l’ancrage des laboratoires derecherche dans les deux régions. La plateforme BWB constitue aussi un nouveau trait d’union entre lesuniversités et le milieu industriel.Sous l’impulsion des Ministres Jean-Marc Nollet et Céline Fremault, les Gouvernements wallon etbruxellois ont décidé d’apporter un soutien conséquent à ce projet à travers un financement de plus de 3,4millions d’euros. Ce qui permet en outre l’insertion de la Belgique dans l’infrastructure européenne1 Un réseau européen des biobanques (BBMRI-ERIC) a été créé et s’est intégré le 22/11/2013 dans le cadre européen ERIC(consortium d’infrastructure de recherche). La Belgique est un des membres fondateurs du BBMRI (Biobanking and BiomolecularResources Research Infrastructure).

BBMRI, dont elle est membre fondateur. BBMRI fait partie des infrastructures identifiées commeprioritaires par les Régions et la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. Les bénéfices pour nos chercheurs de laparticipation à BBMRI sont multiples :• accès des chercheurs de FWB à plus d’un millier de collections de qualité à travers toute l’Europe• renforcement de la participation et de la visibilité de nos biobanques et des équipes de recherchedans des projets innovants et internationaux• reconnaissance de la qualité des biobanques par les bio-industries• effet de levier pour le financement de projets tels que les partenariats public-privés, les incubateursde start-up innovantes, ou les pôles de compétitivité• évaluation de l’impact socio-économique et régional des biobanques.La réunion officielle de démarrage (Kick-off) du projet vient de se tenir, en présence des chevilles ouvrièresdu projet et sous l’œil de certains représentants de l’industrie des sciences de la vie, qui ne cachent pasleur intérêt. Le professeur Isabelle Salmon explique pourquoi : « Sans les biobanques qui garantissentl’approvisionnement et la gestion des échantillons, plus de recherche médicale en nos contrées. Je suisravie que notre travail de préparation, qui a requis l’énergie de beaucoup de monde, se concrétise enfindans ce démarrage. J’invite ainsi les biobanques à renforcer leur rôle de partenaire de la recherche.»« Cette mise en réseau va également améliorer la disponibilité et circulation de l’information concernantles maladies rares, qui en l’absence de matériel en quantité suffisante ne pouvaient pas faire l’objet derecherches adéquates », ajoute le professeur Marbaix.ContactsUniversité Catholique deLouvainProf. Etienne Marbaix+32 (0)2 764 67 35Service de presseIsabelle Decoster, attachée depresse+32 (0)486 42 62 20Isabelle.decoster@uclouvain.beUniversité libre de BruxellesProf. Isabelle Salmon+32 (0)2 555 31 15Isabelle.Salmon@ulb.ac.beService de presseNancy Dath, CommunicationRecherche+32 (0)2 650 92 03ndath@ulb.ac.beUniversité de LiègeProf. Jacques Boniver+32 (0)4 366 24 11Service de presseDidier Moreau+32 (0)4 366 52 17press@ulg.ac.be

Contact us

BWB’s offices are located in Anderlecht.

For any questions, please call us on
+32-2-5554874 or e-mail
contact@biotheque-wallonie-bruxelles.be

Route de Lennik 808,
1070 Anderlecht,
Bruxelles