Briefs: Africa's first bio-bank

South Africa's first bio-bank, a cold storage facility where samples from HIV clinical trials and other diseases can be stored for years to support future medical research, was launched recently. The state-of-the-art facility in Johannesburg is designed to store over 2 million clinical trial samples in -80°C freezer storage or in liquid nitrogen. Plasma or serum samples can be kept 5-10 years at -80°C, but cells require liquid nitrogen temperatures (i.e. -150°C down to -196°C) to remain alive. The ability to store samples long term, including the RNA and DNA of AIDS viruses or tuberculosis bacilli, means they can be used for future vaccine development and to study resistance patterns to drugs or the role of non-tuberculous organisms affecting immuno-compromised deficient patients.