Human Tissue Storage and Its Support to Biomedical Research

Published by Patrick Famisaran on

human tissue

The advancement in biomedical research is thanks in part to the innovation in human tissue storage. With a high-quality tissue bank, quality of research is guaranteed as well. A standardized collection, process, and storage of human tissue have paved the way for researchers to push the boundaries of science in medicine.

Utilizing human tissue in biomedical research highlights the need for best practices to ensue. With standard models of tissue storage, specific medical disciplines are given good quality samples to investigate. To come up with a clinical breakthrough, a comprehensive investigation process is necessary. The availability of human tissue samples is crucial in these kinds of investigations.

Tissue Collection Models

Tissue Collection Models
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Obtaining human tissues is critical in tissue storage. There are many approaches to tissue collection. 

  • Banking Model

This model follows a standard operating procedure. The SOP includes collection, processing, and storing human tissues. The typical processing in the banking model obtains tissues as paraffin blocks. 

However, tissue banking is limited. When researchers need fresh and unfrozen samples, it becomes a problem. Specially processed tissues are hard to come by in the banking model. This becomes a limitation when research needs specifically sized samples. 

The more significant benefit of the banking model is its accessibility. There are a large number of samples that can be accessed depending on research needs. 

  • Clinical Trial Model

This tissue sampling approach accounts for remnant tissues of clinical trials. This model is a subtype of the banking model specific to tissues from clinical trials. Ultimately, the disadvantage of this model is informed consent from the clinical trial itself. Informed consent may limit usage. Also, because tissues are remnants, sizes and numbers are smaller as well. 

  • Prospective Collection Model

The advantage of prospective collection is researchers can specify the need for tissue types. But limitations for this kind of model comes from the fact that there is no readily available tissue type per request. Because this is a customized form of tissue collection, the outcome is also on a longer timetable.

  • Tissue Repository Model

This kind of approach combines banking and prospective collection model. It provides a steady tissue bank as well as the capacity to specify tissue sample specifications. The tissue repository facility receives stores, processes, and distributes the specimen on account of need.

Factors Affecting Tissue Storage

Factors Affecting Tissue Storage
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There are many factors affecting tissue repositories. This ranges from types of tissues to actual collection protocols. To account for such factors is critical to the outcome of the tissue investigation.

  • Types of Tissues

Some tissue repositories are subject to specific tissue requests. It accounts for fresh, frozen, and fixed solid tissues. It also “banks” bodily fluids.

There is a need for a survey to account for the potential tissues required by researchers. The facility itself is defined by the tissues provided. The design of tissue storage, equipment, personnel, and supplies are dependent on the processing of tissue.

  • Population

There are specific researches that need particular populations. In these cases, tissue collection is pre-arranged. Certain population subgroups are good sample representations of biomedical research. 

For other circumstances, searching for new sites is needed in tissue collection. Collaborative sites are essential alternative routes in tissue repository.

Medical facilities are usually the collection site for tissues. Tissue banks must estimate the tissues they need to collect. 

  • Repository Services

There are add-on services that supplement tissue banking. This includes:

  1. Tissue delivery to research sites
  2. DNA and RNA extraction
  3. Cell culture
  4. Xenografting
  5. Analysis of tissue
  • Specimen Labelling

Biomedical research derives evidential data. The basic protocol of specimen labeling is one to achieve a standard data accounting. The process of labeling follows:

  1. Prevention of secondary human errors
  2. Prevention of misidentification of specimen
  3. Minimize label erasures and separations

In a more advanced database, barcoding is used. This is connected to the user platform containing all other information about the specimen at hand. 

  • Tissue Storage

In principle, an ultra-cold storage system is the backbone of tissue banking. But such equipment is a hefty investment. Local medical facilities cannot afford the supply of such a system. It is then the role of the tissue repository to provide the appropriate storage for tissue specimens. Medical research facilities can inquire and be charged for storage fee in the process.

Quality Assurance

The need for quality assurance is critical in biomedical research. This account quality checks in collecting, processing, and storing tissues necessary for the research itself. Quality assurance qualifies all efforts required to identify problems and the appropriate action steps to correct them.

  • Standard Operating Procedures

There are standard methods in tissue storage. These methods ensure uniformity to attain comprehensive standards among all processes involved in the repository. Certain are detailed in outlining an SOP. It also undergoes a continuous iteration to adapt to current needs.

In essence, SOP are guiding principles for employees to abide by. This is a reference point to quality checks. 

  • Audits

Periodic evaluations are vital in operating a robust tissue repository. These audits are regularly done as an operational review. Audit accounts from simple database management to complex tissue repository protocols.

Specific audits may check the following operational variables:

  1. Monitoring Abidance to SOPs
  2. Specimen Storage
  3. Maintenance and Repair of Equipment
  4. Monitoring of Equipment use
  5. Training of Staff
  6. Record Keeping
  7. Tissue Quality 

One type of audit is through the conduct of surveys. Surveys are an excellent evaluation reference to report problems. This is an inferential way of checking results and correcting them accordingly. 

  • Quality Control

Quality control, especially in tissue banking, takes precedent on any operational activity. There are minimum standards for quality control amount tissue repositories. These control proceedings come in the form of examinations or analyses to present the overall characterization of tissue. 

Depending on quality control requirements, extensive examinations are requested. An in-depth analysis is directly dependent on the research needs. Some researchers have customized analysis request specific to tissue specimen need. 

Other Operational Variables

Other Operational Variables in human tissue storage
Photo Credit: medicine.yale.edu

Because tissue banking incurs a lot of transfer of specimens, specific administrative standards are in place. Material Transfer Agreements (MTA) facilitate the relay of tissue samples among relevant research stakeholders. 

Often, shipping is a significant consideration in tissue banking. Tissues are collected from one site. It needs storage and shipping to another, depending on research locations. This requires a thorough shipping operation. Hence, shipping is a significant variable in the distribution of tissue specimens. 

Shipments should comply with regulatory requirements. Air transport has regulatory guidelines to follow. This is the same with shipping specimens. There are specific standards to abide by when tissues are delivered through shipment. 

Optimizing Tissue Banking for Biomedical Research

Available tissues are a great support to biomedical research. Some primary benefits are:

  • Neoadjuvant therapy
  • The decreasing size of tumors
  • Research for disease not treated surgically
  • Use of tissues for specific diagnosis

Efforts in innovating tissue repositories are underway. Specific monitoring solutions are needed to optimize the operational capacity of tissue banks.

Wireless Sensors

The essential equipment for real-time monitoring is wireless sensors. They are portable data loggers that can continuously record temperature data. Once placed in an ultra-low refrigerator, maintaining a consistent temperature in tissue storage is achieved. AKCP wireless temperature sensor and data logger has a built-in calibration check to ensure proper data recording.

PT100 ultra low temperature wireless sensors
PT100 Type Ultra Cold Wireless Temperature Sensor

PT100 Type Ultra Cold Temperature Sensor

This sensor is suitable for monitoring a wider range of temperatures from -200°C to +150°C (-328°F to 302°F). Used for ultra-cold shipments, such as the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The Ultra Cold Temperature Sensor is based is an RTD type sensor (Resistance Temperature Detector) made from Platinum. As temperature changes so do the resistance of the metal. This is precisely measured to give a temperature reading. The accuracy of the sensor is ±0.2°C (±0.4°F).

Sensor Features

  • 4x AA Battery powered, with 10-year life*
  • USB 5VDC external power.
  • 12VDC external power.
  • Custom sensor cable length up to 15ft to position sensor in an optimal location.

Wireless Tunnel Gateway Technology

Incorporating the on-ground sensor with wireless tunnel gateway technology assures long-range, high penetration, low-power sensor communication. The technology ensures that wireless sensors receive and relays the messages, specifically data logs. With such capacity, alert relays and warning notification in any temperature fluctuation circumstance.

AKCPro Server monitoring interface
AKCPro Server

Central Management Software

Because a human tissue repository requires a constant relay and distribution of specimens, shipment tracking is needed. Tracking human tissue relay in the cold chain is now streamlined through central management software. AKCPro Pharma-mon Server is a single user interface to monitor all operations in the tissue bank.

When sensors log data, they are transmitted to a wireless tunnel gateway, and data graphing is enabled through the software. Gateway data synchronizes, and graphs are outlined. Through this, report generation is easier. It limits any human errors and time consuming of generating manual forms.

New Directions

There is an ongoing drive to advertise tissue collection and its role in biomedical research. Efforts to streamline better tissue banking methods are also underway. It is in this nature that investments in monitoring solutions are also critical. To better monitor the required environmental conditions, innovation in monitoring technology is much needed.

In establishing a comprehensive tissue repository, a good quality assurance program is also essential. Quality control information is good support in bettering research outcomes. Preserving the quality of tissue is proportional to the quality control in place. A comprehensive monitoring technology better aids this.

Reference Links:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3445033/

https://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/tissue-and-eye-services/support/storing-tissue-safely/


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