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An animal cell and tissue bank to conserve biodiversity

20 December 2021

Zoo. The Biobanc will prioritise the conservation of endangered species when it comes to preserving animal biomaterials.

The Biobanc animal cell and tissue bank is to prioritise the conservation of endangered species when it comes to animal biomaterials. The first of its kind in the Spanish state, the project is in line with the goals of the new model for Barcelona Zoo and will be a leading initiative in this field in southern Europe.

Besides conservation, the project has two more goals: to facilitate genetic and genomic research into animals in a less invasive and more sustainable way, and to homogenise cell and tissue samples efficiently, facilitating a responsible use of them.

This backing for research is also reflected by the fact that the Biobanc is supported by eminent professionals in research and biodiversity, such as Dr. Oliver Ryder, director of the Frozen Zoo in San Diego (USA), and the collaboration of Manel López Béjar, researcher at the UAB, and Tomàs Marquès i Bonet, researcher with the ICREA at the UPF.

Examples from the USA and the UAB

The project has actually been conceived with the intention of becoming the European equivalent of Frozen Zoo, a pioneering North American institute created in the 60s and renowned around the world in this sphere. The institute has the largest collection of cellular lines (10,000) and species (900+) in the world.

The Biobanc will have two bases, one at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE) and the other at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). The UAB started conserving tissue from dead animals of interest from the Zoo in 2003, for research purposes, an activity which the new initiative also captures in spirit.