Fresh human tissue collection for accelerated research

Fresh human tissue is currently best for modeling living tissue in the human body. For oncology researchers, fresh tissue provides a platform for early-stage immunotherapy development. Additionally, individual tumor cells (either primary or dissociated) allow for the characterization of tumors and the exploration of important molecular and cellular pathways.

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Image Credit: BioIVT

Patient-derived xenografts offer a platform for basic cancer research and preclinical therapeutic evaluations. Fresh tissue plays a vital role in primary cell functional assays, cell line development, and biomarker and gene expression assay development for a variety of diseases. For all these assays, the aim is to gather new data from cells or tissue that are as lifelike as possible.

This article discusses the details that should be considered when obtaining fresh tissues for research. 

Living subject or deceased donor tissues

The ability to acquire tissue from living subjects relies on the standard of care, where tissue resection occurs as part of the treatment. The tissue is surgically resected, removed from the operating room, and reviewed by pathology. Following this procedure, the tissue is rapidly placed into ice-cold media, usually within an hour of resection.

The short period of warm ischemic time before submersion in media means fresh surgical tissue is the best choice for researchers when available. Usually, oncology and some auto-immune tissues are candidates for resection and may be available from surgical collection partners.

However, some tissues are not surgically resected and must be collected from deceased donors. For tissue samples and thoracic and abdominal organs, the freshest tissues are acquired from shared organ donors.

Shared organ donors are those able to donate only some of their internal organs for transplant, or those who may have originally appeared to be organ donors but were ruled out. Tissues from these donors usually have less than 12 hours of ischemia time prior to resection and submersion in ice-cold media.

All other organs and tissue types are obtained from post-mortem donors who were not candidates for transplant. Usually, these tissues are submerged in media within 24 hours of death. Post-mortem donors are excellent sources for normal controls.

Diseased samples of a particular diagnosis may also be available, but clinical treatment information may not be specific enough for particular research goals.

Fresh whole blood

Fresh whole blood may be required to identify circulating tumor cells, biomarkers, and other metabolites of interest. Blood products can be obtained from subjects prior to surgeries and during outpatient visits.

Shared organ donors and post-mortem cases are also sources of fresh whole blood; however, these are usually only used as companion samples to the tissues collected.

If whole blood is the main matrix of interest, researchers usually request blood-only cases. In these cases, BioIVT can target a wide group of subjects for rapid collection.

Considerations for experimental design

Oncology researchers must consider the types of cases where surgery is medically recommended. For example, prostate tumors are not always resected. When they are, removal is in very small pieces with uncertain tumor content.

Current medical practice does not endorse the resection of small cell lung cancer (SCLC). As a result, samples are available only via archival FFPE biopsy remnants or occasionally in fresh frozen or FFPE block when SCLC is resected in error.

A range of late-stage cancers are deemed inoperable and, as a result, are very rarely available for collection.

As a result, limiting weight requirements and focusing screening criteria on essential elements for the experimental design yields the most effective collection to support research needs.

Also important for surgical oncology collections is pathology staging. Clinical stage information often does not match the pathological staging results. It is not possible to complete pathology staging until the final path review is finished. This is often several days after surgery; therefore, a conclusive screen for fresh tissue collections based on tumor stage is impossible prior to receipt.

Other screening methods include stage range estimation based on treatment before surgery. If a donor screen is based on earlier treatment, it is recommended to select for treatment by drug class rather than by specific agent.

Transit and packaging of the tissue

With over a decade of expertise in fresh tissue collection and shipping, BioIVT’s delivery logistics and fresh tissue packaging processes have been extensively tested and refined. Surgical tissues are collected into ice-cold DMEM, with an antibiotic cocktail added when appropriate.

However, tissue can be collected into any media of preference. BioIVT’s standard fresh tissue packaging maintains a temperature of 2-7 ºC for up to 72 hours. In-house testing has revealed that cells remain viable for up to five days post-surgery with BioIVT’s media and packaging method.

Though BioIVT’s packaging maintains tissue quality for several days, its delivery systems enable tissue to be consistently delivered within 24 hours of resection for US clients (excluding Hawaii, Alaska, and the Territories). 

For most European clients, BioIVT’s delivery timeframe ranges between 24-36 hours from surgery, with fresh surgical tissue typically arriving the next business day after resection.

About BioIVT

BioIVT, formerly BioreclamationIVT, is a leading global provider of high-quality biological specimens and value-added services. We specialize in control and disease state samples including human and animal tissues, cell products, blood, and other biofluids. Our unmatched portfolio of clinical specimens directly supports precision medicine research and the effort to improve patient outcomes by coupling comprehensive clinical data with donor samples.

Our Research Services team works collaboratively with clients to provide in vitro hepatic modeling solutions. And as the world’s premier supplier of ADME-Tox model systems, including hepatocytes and subcellular fractions, BioIVT enables scientists to better understand the pharmacokinetics and drug metabolism of newly discovered compounds and the effects on disease processes. By combining our technical expertise, exceptional customer service, and unparalleled access to biological specimens, BioIVT serves the research community as a trusted partner in ELEVATING SCIENCE®.


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Last updated: Feb 12, 2024 at 8:21 AM

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