Years of working with researchers and helping to plan collections to support their projects has shown that certain questions crop up very often. We hope that this list of frequently asked questions will help you as you plan your human tissue sample or blood sample based research.

If you have any questions, or would like to suggest other questions or topics, please email info@biobankonline.com with your feedback.

Your Requirements

The more detail you can provide us with regarding your requirements, the better we will be able to provide you with the human tissue samples, blood samples, organs and other biofluids you need, saving you time, money and effort.

Why source via Tissue For Research?

We are trusted by many of the world’s leading academic and not-for-profit research centres, pharmaceutical companies, diagnostics companies, medical device specialists and CROs to provide the organs, anatomical parts, tissue samples, blood samples, CSF or other samples they need to discover, develop and validate new medical treatments.

We are proud to be able to introduce you directly to the specialist sites (hospitals, pathology services companies, tissue banks & body donation centers) that we work with so that you can discuss technical details directly with the experts in charge of sample collection. 

Unlike other providers, we believe that this leads to a better experience, with a more thorough understanding on both sides of what is required and why, and how best it can be achieved.

The opportunity to interact directly on technical matters with the on-site experts screening potential donors & preparing samples & data for you can lead to useful feedback from our sites regarding your study before the collection starts, with ongoing feedback from you encouraged throughout the collection process, ensuring you receive the best possible biosamples for your research, and the best value for your investment.

We provide a high quality and cost-effective service, including PhD-level guidance and project management.

Each request is unique and receives personal attention throughout to ensure success. We believe in developing long term relationships with our clients and are highly motivated to see your research succeed.

Terminology

  1. PMI: Post Mortem Interval (warm ischemic time, and possibly cold ischemic time too)- the time from when the donor passes until the specimen is removed from the donor’s body.
  2. Warm ischemic time:
    Deceased: the time between the donor passing and the tissue sample being removed from the body or the time between the donor dying and the donor’s body being refrigerated. For examples, donors who have undergone post mortem examination at the Coroner’s Office may have quite long cold ischemic times.
    Clinical: the time between the blood being cut off from that particular tissue sample and the tissue being refrigerated, frozen or fixed.
  3. Draw time: the time between blood being drawn and processed (for example, to serum or plasma, or frozen)
  4. TNM, ypT & associated terms: these relate to cancer staging (pathology “p” vs clinical “c”) for detailed explanations, see:
    https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/staging

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/prognosis/tumor-grade-fact-sheet

For example, ypT2 means pathology staging (p) of a pre-treated tumor (y) stage 2. Exactly what is implied by “stage 2” depends on the particular cancer type, with different tumor sizes being denoted & locations of invasiveness depending on the physiological site.

  1. % tumor: this can be measured as % tumor nuclei, or % tumor by surface area, and is determined by a pathologist using an FFPE cancer sample. Please specify if you particularly prefer one type of measurement over the other.
  2. Maximum acceptable time from sampling to delivery: This is the time from the fresh tissue sample or blood sample being removed from the donor to being delivered to your lab.
  3. Normal adjacent: this is normal tissue from the same organ or tissue as a diseased tissue sample and removed as part of the same surgery as part of the surgeon’s process to try to ensure all of the disease is removed. (It does not mean that the donor is necessarily free of all other known diseases or cancers in other parts of the body. Please specify your criteria carefully.)
  4. NAT: Normal Adjacent to Tumor: this is normal margin tissue taken from the same organ or tissue as the cancer sample & resected during surgery to remove a tumor to ensure that all of the tumor is removed.

Considerations

 

– Why use human tissue samples, blood samples or other biofluid samples?

Humans are genetically unique, with different life styles, diets, disease combinations, treatment combinations and develop diseases at different ages. This can make human biology complicated to study, but in the end, human tissue samples, before humans ourselves, are the only relevant testbed to advance human medicine.

– Which format do you need?

What will you be using the tissue samples for? If you wish to study RNA or proteomics, for example, you may require frozen tissues, rather than FFPE blocks.
Can you use frozen tissues, serum, plasma or buffy coat, or do you need fresh materials? If you are growing cells, fresh cells are best, but otherwise, frozen specimens are more readily available and less challenging logistically as samples can be delivered with less time pressure during normal working hours, also reducing your courier costs.

– Which data do you need?

Data may include a pathology report, clinical history, follow up data and/or a donor or next of kin medical history questionnaire.
Please be specific in listing everything you need to know, and everything you would like to know, but which is not essential.
Biorepositories, pathology sites and body donation centers vary in the types of data that are available, and charges may vary if additional clinical staff time is required to go through extensive full medical records.

Questions to consider: clinical specimens:

Few living donors will be able to provide grams of material, particularly not from early stage cancers (more commonly detected in Western countries), or from small tumor sites.

Potential exceptions include CRC and ovarian tumors, amongst others. Ovarian tumors may be quite large, but the bulk of the tumor may actually have spread into the omentum. Are such invasive tissues good options for your research?
Normal tissue will usually be normal-adjacent to tumor, or another disease.

For obvious reasons, the need to spare as much normal tissue as possible during surgery to remove a brain tumor means that very little normal brain tissue is available from clinical donors. Colorectal cancer surgery, on the other hand, generally includes a fairly wide margin so that the surgeon can be confident that all of the tumor has been removed, so you are more likely to be able to obtain normal tissues from this type of surgery.

Melanoma primary tissue usually goes for diagnosis, but you may be able to obtain fresh metastatic melanoma tissue, or FFPE blocks that are more than 10 years old.

If you require very large tissue samples, deceased donors may be more suitable for your work.

Another consideration is that if you are moving a diagnostic close to clinical application, it has to work on relatively small amounts of tissue or blood in order to be of practical use in the clinic.

Questions to consider: deceased donor specimens:

Most donors are aged 60+, many have Type II diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure or other chronic conditions. Many smoke or consume alcohol. Most will have been on palliative care medications, which may include schedule II narcotics, anxiolytics and anti-depressants before they passed.

– What is the highest PMI you can accept for deceased donor specimens?

If you wish to study RNA, you probably need shorter times than if you are studying proteins, for example. Certain organs degrade faster than other organs. What can you find out from the published literature?

It takes time between a donor passing & it being possible to collect tissue samples for your research. Researchers sometimes seem surprised that we can’t obtain specimens sooner than 3 hours, and that such donors are extremely rare. Please consider that the family’s needs need to be taken care of at the hospice or hospital, before paperwork can be completed and transport arranged. If complex preparation protocols (for example, “bread slicing” the brain at 1cm intervals on a teflon coated plate for your histology & RNA preparation) are required, this will also take time. So, if you can go up to 12h (or longer), tissue samples will be much more readily available. We will of course collect according to your exact specifications and preparation protocol, however stringent you require that collection to be- it will just be slower.

Questions to consider: fresh tissue samples or blood samples:

Maximum acceptable time from sampling to delivery:

This question is more urgent for deceased donor tissue samples, as donors may pass at any time of the day or night, seven days a week, with little if any warning until the donor is en route.

This means that tissue samples are not always ready in good time for a FedEx pickup, or standard business day delivery!

If you restrict delivery to FedEx, you may then have long delays from the sample being placed in media/buffer to being delivered at your lab.

If your tissue samples are very time sensitive, you may therefore wish to consider using a specialist next flight out courier which, whilst more expensive, will get you your tissue samples in good time.

Questions to consider: diseased tissue or blood samples:

  1. Which stage(s) do you require? Is there any flexibility?
    For example, late stage cancer donors (stage IV) may be less likely to be operated on and are more likely to have received treatment prior to surgery. Stage IV cancer patients may also be less well able to provide blood for research, so approval may not be given for a study, or for smaller volumes. Healthy donors may be able to give 40ml or even 500ml; a patient often only 10ml.

If you require large cancer samples, deceased donor specimens, where large tumor samples are available from donors where the cancer was the cause of death, may be a better option. The amount of tumor is extensive, metastases can also be collected if requested, and there is no need to spare normal tissue, or to retain tumor for diagnosis.

  1. Pre-treated or treatment naïve? Early stage cancer donors are more likely to present in Western countries, and surgeries are more likely to be performed treatment-naïve. Pre-treated patients’ cancer samples may have large areas of necrosis. Do you need to place limits on this?
    Deceased donors will often have received treatment, although usually not within approximately 2 months of passing. The large amounts of tumor available may compensate for lower cell viability or high necrosis levels.
  2. Do you need a particular % tumor? Or limits re. the % necrosis? Please let us know. Clinical tissue samples can be assessed by a pathologist to check they meet your requirements
  3. Do you have any limits re. treatments, or comorbidities?
  4. How much data do you need? Do you require biomarker data? Do certain biomarkers need to be present, or do you just need to know whether they have been assessed? What is your timeframe? For examples, PSA readings may not have been taken on the day of surgery, or for some time before.

Questions to consider: control / normal / healthy samples:

  1. Do donors need to be matched to a diseased sample set? If so, how closely? Age? (plus/minus 5 years?) Gender? Comorbidities? Treatments?
  2. Is Type II diabetes a problem?
  3. Other inflammatory diseases?
  4. A known history of cancer?
  5. Other, concurrent cancers or related diseases to that which you are studying?
  6. Smoking?
  7. Alcohol consumption?
  8. What about medications that many older donors may be on (if relevant), such as statins or blood pressure medications?
  9. How much data do you need?
  10. How long can you wait for your samples? (The more criteria you have, the longer it will take to find acceptable donors.)

Ready to make an inquiry? Please contact us on info@biobankonline.com for rapid expert assistance on your human tissue research journey.

general questions

  • High Quality Facilities mostly located in the UK.
  • A Trusted Partner including for the world’s largest and most successful pharmaceutical firms and highly regarded academic centers.
  • Tissue For Research is also a member of two international professional biobanking organizations:

– ISBER: the International Society for Biological & Environmental Respositories

– ESBB: the European, Middle Eastern and African Society for Biopreservation and Biobanking.

  • Responsibly and ethically collected in accordance with regulation and law.
  • Expert clinical biorepositories and exceptional in-depth data with multiple sample formats. 
  • Dedicated whole body donor facilities provide a high quality service 24/7 with times from death to sampling that can be as low as 3 hours.
  • Single and convenient point of access and project management service.

Samples from a wide range of diseases are available or can be collected, including:

Cancer

Infectious

Inflammatory

Metabolic, Degenerative and others…

Please also see:

Organs/anatomical parts

Fresh tissues

Frozen tissues

FFPE or formaldehyde-fixed tissues

Read More

Why use human tissue samples, blood samples or other biofluid samples?

Humans are genetically unique, with different life styles, diets, disease combinations, treatment combinations and develop diseases at different ages.

This can make human biology complicated to study, but in the end, human tissue samples, before humans ourselves, are the only relevant testbed to advance human medicine.

This is why we provide exclusively human materials: human specimens for clinically relevant research – the only type of research that can really impact patient care

Read More

  1. PMI: Post Mortem Interval (warm ischemic time, and possibly cold ischemic time too)- the time from when the donor passes until the specimen is removed from the donor’s body.
  2. Warm ischemic time:
    Deceased: the time between the donor passing and the tissue sample being removed from the body or the time between the donor dying and the donor’s body being refrigerated. For examples, donors who have undergone post mortem examination at the Coroner’s Office may have quite long cold ischemic times.
    Clinical: the time between the blood being cut off from that particular tissue sample and the tissue being refrigerated, frozen or fixed.
  3. Draw time: the time between blood being drawn and processed (for example, to serum or plasma, or frozen)
  4. TNM, ypT & associated terms: these relate to cancer staging (pathology “p” vs clinical “c”) for detailed explanations, see:
    https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/staging

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/prognosis/tumor-grade-fact-sheet

For example, ypT2 means pathology staging (p) of a pre-treated tumor (y) stage 2. Exactly what is implied by “stage 2” depends on the particular cancer type, with different tumor sizes being denoted & locations of invasiveness depending on the physiological site.

  1. % tumor: this can be measured as % tumor nuclei, or % tumor by surface area, and is determined by a pathologist using an FFPE cancer sample. Please specify if you particularly prefer one type of measurement over the other.
  2. Maximum acceptable time from sampling to delivery: This is the time from the fresh tissue sample or blood sample being removed from the donor to being delivered to your lab.
  3. Normal adjacent: this is normal tissue from the same organ or tissue as a diseased tissue sample and removed as part of the same surgery as part of the surgeon’s process to try to ensure all of the disease is removed. (It does not mean that the donor is necessarily free of all other known diseases or cancers in other parts of the body. Please specify your criteria carefully.)
  4. NAT: Normal Adjacent to Tumor: this is normal margin tissue taken from the same organ or tissue as the cancer sample & resected during surgery to remove a tumor to ensure that all of the tumor is removed.
  1. Leave enough time:

Let us know as soon as you are considering conducting experiments using human tissue samples or blood samples. It may take longer than you think to find the right biospecimens in inventory, or you may need us to arrange a prospective collection to meet your exact requirements. The timing of prospective collections can’t be guaranteed; the number of potential donors can only be estimated based on past experience.
If you also need follow up data, it may also take time to collect. If you need extensive medical histories, that may also take time to prepare.

You may also need to survey the literature in order to set your criteria.

Asking in good time enables you to plan your budget and lab schedule better, and gives us the opportunity to advise you, meaning you have the best chance of getting you the tissue samples you need, with the data you require, in plenty of time to meet your research deadlines.

  1. Work out your donor criteria: The more stringent your requirements, the longer it may take to find suitable donors/patients.
  2. Work out your collection protocol and experimental protocol(s): We never want to receive confidential or sensitive information. However, the more information you are happy to provide us with, the surer we can be of providing you with the most suitable biospecimens, saving you time and money whilst maximizing the value of your research.
    For example, if you are not sure what your maximum acceptable PMI is (for deceased donors), you may need to review the literature.
  3. Which data do you require? We are unable to provide indentifiable personal information. However, depending on the site, full medical records may be available. Let us know which data are essential, and which data are “nice to have”.

What will you be using the tissue samples for?

If you wish to study RNA or proteomics, for example, you may prefer frozen tissues to FFPE blocks, slides or curls. However, FFPE specimens are much more prevalent. 

Can you use frozen tissues, serum, plasma or buffy coat, or do you need fresh materials?

If you are growing cells, fresh cells are best, but otherwise, frozen specimens are more readily available and less challenging logistically. Samples can be delivered with less time pressure during normal working hours, also reducing your courier costs.

Sourcing biospecimens may require balancing speed of access, numbers of specimens available, logistics and cost to ensure you receive all of the high quality samples you require. Study the literature to find out what other researchers have achieved, and how, and speak with our experts for help working out the best route forward for your research.

We provide fresh and frozen human tissue samples and organs for chemicals, irritancy, corrosivity, toxicity cosmetics and skin permeation testing purposes.

Find out more

Human tissue samples and biofluid specimens such as blood samples are invaluable at all stages of drug/ therapeutic development, from target discovery and validation through to product testing for safety or efficacy, including FDA/ EMEA cross-reactivity panel testing.

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Patients’ specimens play an absolutely pivotal role in medical advances.

If you are considering participating in human biospecimen research, thank you! Although you will not materially benefit, you will be helping future patients.

Tissue For Research does not liaise directly with patients and can not enroll patients directly for studies. Your hospital or hospice will usually have a research coordinator who can assist with this.

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We work with high quality facilities in the US and offer worldwide shipping.