A Cambridge-based biotech company has donated 2D-barcode scanners, software, and barcoded sample tubes to the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to help create a unique biobank of zoological specimens for use by researchers around the world.

Assembled over the last 40 years, the ZSL collection includes samples donated from many diverse sources, including tissue biopsies from animals with unusual diseases, zoological objects seized by regulatory authorities, and endangered species specimens from various parts of the world.

The donation, by Instrumentation control and information management specialist Ziath, recognises the research value of the impressive collection.

Staff at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology aim to catalogue, process and store the growing collection to safeguard the integrity of the samples and open the invaluable resource to researchers.

ZSL biobank manager Louise Gibson explained: “We needed a simple and robust method for critical DNA and tissue samples from our wide range of specimens, that would be easy to store, easy to retrieve and stand the test of time.

“Following consultation with the sample management specialists at Ziath, we decided to use 2D-barcoded sample tubes that can be stored in racks in a deep freeze. In addition, we will use Ziath’s high performance 2D-barcode scanners and Samples™ software to record and track the locations of the stored samples in a more efficient manner.

“Some of our samples will require freezing and so we chose a system in which we are confident that the specimen identification labels will not be compromised. We cannot afford the risks of having to destroy samples because labels are unreadable.”

Louise added: “The aim of this project is to sift through our vast accumulation of specimens, identify them correctly, catalogue them and make biologically relevant samples available to researchers in other academic institutions worldwide. We feel that these samples hold immense value to researchers of zoonotic diseases which may one day become medically relevant to human health.”

For further information ZSL’s scientific research, see zsl.org/science. More information about Ziath is at ziath.com/blog/item/43-biobanking-choosing-sample-management-system.