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Case Study | Erasmus MC

Efficient storage of biological samples

Introducing Erasmus MC

The Erasmus Medical Center (Erasmus MC) in Rotterdam, one of the most prominent medical research institutions in the Netherlands, has recently enhanced its storage system for biological samples by switching to Micronic tubes with 2D codes. This change has resulted in significant space savings in their freezers and improved reliability of sample identification for long-term studies.

Background

Erasmus MC conducts the Rotterdam Study, one of the longest-running health studies in the Netherlands. This study, which focuses on residents of the Rotterdam neighborhood Ommoord, began in 1990 and now includes a much broader age group than originally intended. The research targets age-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases, eye diseases, osteoporosis, and brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The results of this study help predict disease development and develop preventive measures.

The challenge

The Rotterdam Study requires extensive collection and storage of biological samples, including blood and urine, to enable various health studies. These samples must be carefully labeled and stored for long periods. Traditionally, labels and barcodes were used, which could become damaged over time, especially when stored in -80°C freezers. This made it difficult to reliably identify and retrieve samples.

How did Erasmus MC overcome this? Introducing the tubes from Micronic

Four years ago, Erasmus MC decided to switch to Micronic tubes with 2D codes, supplied by NBS Scientific. These tubes offer several advantages:
1. Space Savings: Micronic tubes are smaller and thinner, meaning 1.5 times more tubes can fit in the freezers. This is crucial for an institution with limited storage capacity like Erasmus MC.
2. Reliability: The 2D codes ensure unambiguous and durable identification of samples, regardless of freezer conditions.
3. Efficiency: The tubes are automatically sealed with a capper, minimizing human errors and ensuring sample integrity.

Implementation

The transition to Micronic tubes required investment in new equipment, including scanners and 2D readers, as well as an automatic capping device. This equipment ensures that the tubes are correctly sealed and accurately linked to the respondents’ barcodes. Manually filling racks according to a specific structure ensures that the correct material always ends up in the correct tube.

Erasmus their results?

Since the introduction of Micronic tubes, Erasmus MC has observed significant improvements in their storage process:

Space Savings: Thanks to the more compact size of Micronic tubes, significantly more samples can be stored in the same freezers.
Better Identification: The 2D codes remain readable and intact, even under extreme freezing conditions, enhancing the reliability of sample identification.
Increased Efficiency: The use of automatic capping equipment and structured pipetting procedures reduces the risk of errors and speeds up the process of sample processing and storage.

Conclusion

The switch to Micronic tubes with 2D codes has helped Erasmus MC maximize its storage capacity and improve the reliability of its long-term health studies. This case study highlights how innovative solutions and technologies can contribute to the success of large-scale medical research and the collection of valuable health data.
NBS Scientific is proud to support Erasmus MC in its groundbreaking research by providing the necessary tools and technologies to achieve its research goals.

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