A New Approach to Standardize Multicenter Studies: Mobile Lab Technology for the German Environmental Specimen Bank

2014, Journals

Lermen, Dominik; Schmitt, Daniel; Bartel-Steinbach, Martina; Schröter-Kermani, Christa; Kolossa-Gehring, Marike; von Briesen, Hagen; Zimmermann, Heiko
PLoS ONE 9 (2014), 8, e105401. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105401


Technical progress has simplified tasks in lab diagnosis and improved quality of test results. Errors occurring during the pre-analytical phase have more negative impact on the quality of test results than errors encountered during the total analytical process. Different infrastructures of sampling sites can highly influence the quality of samples and therewith of analytical results. Annually the German Environmental Specimen Bank (ESB) collects, characterizes, and stores blood, plasma, and urine samples of 120-150 volunteers each on four different sampling sites in Germany. Overarching goal is to investigate the exposure to environmental pollutants of non-occupational exposed young adults combining human biomonitoring with questionnaire data. We investigated the requirements of the study and the possibility to realize a highly standardized sampling procedure on a mobile platform in order to increase the required quality of the pre-analytical phase. The results lead to the development of a mobile epidemiologic laboratory (epiLab) in the project Labor der Zukunft (future’s lab technology). This laboratory includes a 14.7 m2 reception area to record medical history and exposure-relevant behavior, a 21.1 m2 examination room to record dental fillings and for blood withdrawal, a 15.5 m2 biological safety level 2 laboratory to process and analyze samples on site including a 2.8 m2 personnel lock and a 3.6 m2 cryofacility to immediately freeze samples. Frozen samples can be transferred to their final destination within the vehicle without breaking the cold chain. To our knowledge, we herewith describe for the first time the implementation of a biological safety laboratory (BSL) 2 lab and an epidemiologic unit on a single mobile platform. Since 2013 we have been collecting up to 15.000 individual human samples annually under highly standardized conditions using the mobile laboratory. Characterized and free of alterations they are kept ready for retrospective analyses in their final archive, the German ESB.

doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105401