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Fiocruz inaugurates COVID-19 Biobank


Cristiane Boar (VPPCB/Fiocruz) and CCS/Fiocruz


In a pioneering initiative, the Foundation inaugurates this Monday (13/12), COVID-19 Biobank (BC19-Fiocruz). Located in Rio de Janeiro, at Expansão campus, BC19-Fiocruz will enable the design and conduct of research, technological development and clinical trials related to COVID-19, regardless of the geographic location of human biological material and viruses. With the capacity to store up to one and a half million samples of human and non-human biological materials, the Foundation's new unit will make a decisive contribution to Brazilian science.

Marcelo Queiroga, minister of Health, and Nisia Trindade Lima, Fiocruz president, at the inauguration (Image: Pedro Paulo Gonçalves)

The 1100 m2 project will work as a center providing highly qualified services and biological materials, with laboratory areas classified as biosafety level 2 (NB2), allowing national and international collaborations, in addition to strengthening the domestic market and reducing the international dependence of Brazil in the area. With biological materials and data stored in Biobank, researchers will be able to develop strategies based on evidence, plan treatment protocols and predictions based on precision medicine.

“Consistent with our institutional mission of contributing to the overcoming of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, today we started the operation of our Biobank, based on research and surveillance actions in relation to Sars-CoV-2 and its variants of concern, against new health emergency scenarios. It is a construction that will greatly contribute to our Unified Health System [the Brazilian public health system, SUS]”, highlights the president of the Foundation, Nísia Trindade Lima.

The BC19-Fiocruz project is the result of debates that involved potential users from a workgroup composed of professionals from different areas in the institution such as engineering, architecture, quality, biosafety and bioprotection, virology, molecular biology, among others. The project had investment from the Ministry of Health, estimated at US$ 7 million (R$ 40 million), between the project, the work and the structuring of the permanent technological park, in addition to complementary support from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations.

BC19-Fiocruz’s general manager, Manuela da Silva, highlights the pioneering nature of Fiocruz initiative: “Biobank represents a concrete response to the urgent demand of SUS, providing a pioneering structure in a time of health emergency and brings the result of an old project to implement the Fiocruz Center for Biological Resources in Health consisting of viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa and other biological materials of taxonomic, epidemiological, and biotechnological interest, which will ensure support for preparation and rapid responses to future public health emergencies”.

Legacy for SUS

The construction of this project was based on three principles valued by Fiocruz: sustainability, accessibility and user comfort, with the capacity to store biological materials under appropriate conditions of temperature, humidity and pressure. Its structure will be permanent, constituting another legacy for SUS. After the COVID-19 pandemic, Biobank will work with other viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoans, in addition to human samples associated with different diseases. In the future, it will be possible to expand the project, with a horizontal and vertical expansion on one more floor.

The project has autonomy in water supply, effluent decontamination system with sewage treatment plant of its own, center of diverse gases, including liquid nitrogen, destined to cryopreservation equipment; in addition to several specific systems to ensure the safety and traceability of samples, meeting the legal requirements of quality, biosafety and bioprotection.

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