The Molecular Medicine Research Center (MMRC) Biobank is the first Biobank that was approved and is under development in Cyprus. It is destined to be a major national health resource, with the aim of supporting applied and basic research for improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses – paying special attention to inherited monogenic disorders. MMRC researchers contributed in high quality and pioneered research during the last 25 years in Cyprus, especially in the field of inherited renal diseases.
The MMRC Biobank prompts healthy volunteers and patients with any disease to provide biological samples and medical information in order to participate and contribute in the development of several research programs that will result in better medical care for the next generations. Research of the last years revealed that in many cases, obtaining reliable results requires thousands of samples for analysis, especially in regards to the many frequent complex disorders, including diabetes and diabetic nephropathy, cardiovascular conditions, Alzheimer and other dementias, autism and autism spectrum disorders, to name a few. Co-operation of multiple biobanks together seems to be the only way for scientists to discover why some people develop particular diseases and others do not.
The MMRC Biobank aims at recruiting of thousands of Cypriots in the next years, who can participate only after they sign an informed consent form, approved by the Cyprus National Bioethics Committee. Required biological samples include DNA, RNA, plasma, serum, urine and in some cases tissue biopsies. Samples are securely stored in -80oC. Clinical and other information is carefully registered in an electronic database with controlled access. Participants, if they agree, will have their health followed.
The scientific staff of this operation includes researchers of a wide spectrum of specialties, such as molecular and cell biologists, geneticists and bioinformaticians, in Cyprus and abroad, while a great number of clinicians are involved at various levels, including the recruiting of patients and healthy volunteers and the pursuing of the various projects. The Biobank and kidney related research project Started with funding of two million euro for a duration of 4.5 years (2011-2015). The University of Cyprus, as the host organization, is supporting the function of the MMRC infrastructure, while new funding sources are continuously being sought. Samples from MMRC Biobank can be provided to other external researchers upon proper application that requires the submission and evaluation of the research proposal and information about the experimental procedures.
The MMRC Biobank's Principal Investigator and Project Coordinator is Constantinos Deltas who is Professor of Genetics, at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cyprus.
With the initiative of Prof. Deltas, Cyprus has applied and become Observer to the Biobanking and BioMolecular Resources Research Infrastructure-European Research Infrastructure Consortium (BBMRI-ERIC), the largest family of Biobanks in Europe, as of April 2016.
The Biobank hosts more than 4,000 samples of patients and healthy donors (mostly relatives), associated with records and data of variable completeness. The best studied cohorts relate to:
2. Complement factor H related 5 (CFHR5) nephropathy (C3 glomerulopathy), 175 patients
3. MUC1 kidney disease (formerly known as medullary cystic kidney disease type 1), 150 patients
4. Alport Syndrome, 100 patients