Including children in biomedical research is an argument for continual reflection and practice refinement from an ethical and legal standpoint. Indeed, as children reach adulthood, a reconsent method should be used, and data connected with samples should ideally be updated based on the children’s growth and long-term results. Furthermore, because most pediatric disorders are uncommon, children’s ... [Show full abstract] research initiatives should conform to standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by worldwide scientific organizations for successfully sharing data and samples. Here, we examine how pediatric biobanks can help address some challenges to improve biomedical research for children. Indeed, modern biobanks are evolving as complex research platforms with specialized employees, dedicated spaces, information technologies services (ITS), and ethical and legal expertise. In the case of research for children, biobanks can collaborate with scientific networks (i.e., BBMRI–ERIC) and provide the collection, storage, and distribution of biosamples in agreement with international standard procedures (ISO-20387). Close collaboration among biobanks provides shared avenues for maximizing scarce biological samples, which is required to promote the translation of scientific breakthroughs for developing clinical care and health policies tailored to the pediatric population. Moreover, biobanks, through their science communication and dissemination activities (i.e., European Biobank Week), may be helpful for children to understand what it means to be engaged in a research study, allowing them to see it as a pleasant, useful, and empowering experience. Additionally, biobanks can notify each participant about which projects have been accomplished (i.e., through their websites, social media networks, etc.); they can facilitate future reconsent procedures and update sample-associated data based on the children’s growth. Finally, because of the increasing interest from public and commercial organizations in research efforts that include the sharing and reuse of health data, pediatric biobanks have a crucial role in this context. Consequently, they could benefit from funding opportunities for sustaining research activities even regarding rare pediatric disorders.
Conclusion: Pediatric biobanks are helpful for providing biological material for research purposes, addressing ethical and legal issues (i.e. data protection, consent, etc.), and providing control samples from healthy children of various ages and from different geographical regions and ethnicities. Therefore, it is vital to encourage and maintain children’s engagement in medical research programs and biobanking activities, especially as children become adults, and reconsent procedures must be applied. What is Known:
• Biobanks are critical research infrastructures for medical research, especially in the era of “omic” science. However, in light of their fragility and rights children’s participation in biobanking and medical research programs is a complex argument of continuous debate in scientific literature.
What is New:
• We propose a review of the literature on pediatric biobanks with a particular focus on oncological biobanks. The main current limitations and challenges for pediatric biobanks are presented and possible solutions are discussed.