Biobanks in Sweden
In Sweden, there are 7 Universities with a Medical faculty and 21 Healthcare regions (County Councils). Each being their own principal. Together, they have nearly 250 biobanks containing over 150 million samples and approximately 3-4 million samples are added each year.
The most extensive biobanks and largest quantity of samples are stored in the Healthcare sector (estimated 90% of all stored samples). There are sample collections stored from the early 1900s, but it was not until the mid-1960s that samples began to be collected to a greater extent.
There are also biobanks at private Healthcare providers, private Laboratories, Medical and Med-Tech companies as well as biobanks at some authorities (approximately 200 in total).
Several of the biobanks that are not included in the Healthcare sector are so-called e-biobanks (or virtual biobanks). They contain only sample data and no samples. The e-biobanks are established with the purpose of following the requirements of the Biobanks in Medical Care Act regarding clinical pharmaceutical trials.
The Swedish Healthcare sector, has a well-established infrastructure for sample handling and information, as well as biobanking for care. When used for research, the infrastructure is cost-effective, patient safe, quality assured, and in accordance with the regulations covering the Healthcare sector. It provides increased accessibility across the country. Samples collected for research are often, but not always, stored in a Healthcare biobank in collaboration with a University Hospital.
The latter also applies to the 14 Healthcare regions that do not have a University hospital. Sweden’s 21 county councils/regions are divided into six healthcare districts within which there is extended collaboration and joint functions, such as the Regional Biobank Centre (RBC Swedish “Regionalt biobankscentrum”).