The biobank

What is the Biobank ?

During the management of a patient, samples are often taken to establish the precise diagnosis of the disease and to determine the treatment and follow-up required. Once this essential step in the patient's management has been completed, there may be biological material that remains unused. This material is called residual body material. This residual material is an essential and precious tool for scientific research, which is why it is kept in the Biobank (or Biothèque) of Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc. The mission of the Biobank is to make this residual body material available to researchers, along with the associated clinical data.

In the more specific context of the management of a patient with cancer or suspected cancer, the residual samples are kept in the part of the Biobank managed by the King Albert II Institute of the Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc.  These samples are registered in a national registry, the Belgian Virtual Tumour Library click here

Who benefits ?

Research on this material is primarily for the benefit of patients. It can lead to the improvement of existing treatments or to the discovery of new drugs, and it can also be used to test new diagnostic tools. If financial benefits are generated by the valorization of the results obtained, they are entirely reinvested in the operation of the King Albert II Institute Biobank and in new research projects of the Catholic University of Louvain.

Do we have absolute freedom of choice ?

Each person is entirely free to authorize or refuse the donation of their remaining clinical specimens. As established by the law of December 19, 2008, the samples are stored and used according to the principle of presumed consent, i.e. the patient agrees to the storage and use of his or her residual body material as long as he or she has not explicitly objected.

The refusal to store and use the residual material must be explicitly expressed in writing to the biobank manager.

Similarly, the patient is free to withdraw his or her consent at any time without the need to justify it and without any disadvantage to his or her subsequent medical treatment. In this case, the samples concerning him/her that were kept in the Biobank will be removed and destroyed.


Is this all ethical and legal ?

The use and sharing of material as well as the verification and retrospective analysis of clinical data are subject to strict rules. As for blood, marrow or organ donations, the functioning of the Biobank and the research projects are under the supervision of an Ethics Commission. The latter is responsible for ensuring that the Belgian and European legal texts in force are respected, in particular those concerning the protection of privacy and patients' rights.

Is anonymity guaranteed ? What about genetic analysis ?

The stored material is always coded in such a way that no personal information is transmitted. Researchers in public or private laboratories all sign a strict contract of use that ensures the preservation of this anonymity by prohibiting any attempt to trace the identity of the patient, including through genetic analysis.

More questions or uncertainties ?

Do not hesitate to contact the people in charge of the biobank.


  • A document must be completed for all sample requests to the biobank
  • For any information request, please contact the biobank