Human Tissue Sample Blog

The Importance of Informed Consent for Biospecimen Research

Posted by Luke Doiron on Jul 19, 2016 8:00:00 AM


“Change is the law of life,” said President John F. Kennedy in a June 1963 speech. For scientists and clinicians who do research with biospecimens, change is driven by the rapid expansion of knowledge in the field of genomic analysis of tissues and body fluids and the inherent benefit to the human species that this type of study can bring.

It is difficult, however, to know in advance how biospecimens can and will be used in medical and scientific research, and for this reason, there is a fine line between patient rights and medical research. Oncology biospecimens available to scientists are frequently obtained in the course of routine medical procedures, and informed consent should always be acquired if tissue will be used for research.

Read More

Will Computer Modeling Make Human Tissue Obsolete?

Posted by Luke Doiron on Jun 23, 2016 8:00:00 AM


Sadly, far too many people have no clue about the hurdles biotech companies face when trying to bring a new drug to waiting patients. As the Wall Street Journal noted in its review of Antidote, an outstanding book covering pharmaceutical drug development, "it typically takes around a billion dollars and many years to make a drug, guide it through the demanding regulatory process and finally bring the product to market. Few candidate drugs starting the process actually find their way into patients."  

Computer modeling, also known as in silico modeling, is an emerging method being investigated to simulate disease development and accelerate drug discovery, which by some estimates takes 10 to 15 years for a novel molecule to journey from a possible drug target to an FDA-approved human therapy. Computer modeling shows potential as a possible method to more rapidly evaluate new drug compound toxicity and safety, sometimes without animal testing. Today, researchers are actively developing a wide range of sophisticated computer models that simulate human biology and guide studies into disease origin and progression. 

Read More

How Long Does Human Tissue Stay Viable for Research?

Posted by Luke Doiron on Jun 16, 2016 8:00:00 AM


The availability of a wide diversity of human biospecimens to aid biomedical research programs is essential to advancing our state of knowledge regarding the origins and progression of diseases such as cancer and immune disorders. Provision of tissue requires a systematic approach to ensure that, once collected, key genetic material, proteins, and enzymes do not significantly degrade to the point that the specimen’s viability is damaged.

According to published American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) standards, the expiration time of different human tissues should not exceed the following:

Read More

How Human Tissue Is Collected for Use in Genetic Research

Posted by Luke Doiron on May 24, 2016 8:00:00 AM


Amazing advancements in understanding the genetics behind a variety of diseases have come about in large part because of the use of human tissue specimens by researchers around the globe. Biospecimens have been collected for many decades now, but today, there is a growing recognition of the need for higher quality, well annotated and more diverse specimens to advance our understanding of the molecular basis for disease.

Traditionally, tissue specimens are collected during a surgical procedure to remove a suspicious growth for biopsy or to excise a tumor or other growth. The remaining tissue after pathology analysis was often discarded or was so small in size as to make it unusable for additional research. With the rise of genetic testing and research, this model is changing. Now, more and more medical institutions are actively recruiting a people representing a diversity in health status, demography, treatment history, etc. The reason is that such populations help researchers advance their understanding of disease genetics and the differences that can and do exist among different populations.

Read More

Demographic Considerations in Matching Normal Donor Samples

Posted by Luke Doiron on Jan 7, 2016 8:00:00 AM


Today, researchers increasingly recognize the importance of having access to normal donor samples that can serve as controls for their research. Companies seeking to test new therapies or diagnostic tests in the preclinical stage often need specimens from specific patient cohorts for age and other demographic matching purposes. Sometimes, these projects require large volumes of individual donors who are age-matched to a particular range that their particular therapy will target.

Other demographic challenges for preclinical drug discovery protocols include the importance of locating specific ethnic populations who have a higher incidence of likelihood of getting particular diseases, such as certain cancers or blood disorders. Companies seeking targeted therapies in this situation need to make sure that they obtain healthy populations of that specific demographic to raise the confidence level in the validity of results.

Read More

Eliminating Tissue Samples for Prostate Cancer? It May Soon Be Possible

Posted by Luke Doiron on Jan 5, 2016 8:00:00 AM


Historically, patients suspected of having prostate cancer based on an elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) level will eventually have a tissue biopsy. The most common procedure is a core needle biopsy. This entails the insertion of a thin, hollow needle into the prostate gland to remove a small prostate tissue core specimen. Sometimes, this procedure must be repeated multiple times in order to evaluate different prostate areas for the presence of cancer. And though an elevated PSA can be a warning sign of cancer, only 25 percent of men with raised PSA levels who then have a biopsy actually have prostate cancer.

Read More

A Surprising Cause of NSCLC: Radon

Posted by Luke Doiron on May 15, 2014 9:29:00 AM


This year alone, lung cancer will claim over 220,000 new hosts. Tobacco smoke is the number one catalyst of lung cancer causing at least 80 percent of its deaths, not including instances that occur due to the exposure of secondhand smoke. Smoking alone is enough to prompt the growth of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but smoking often correlates with other exposures that frequently reside unannounced—one of which includes radon.

Read More

8 Criteria to Consider When Choosing a Tissue Bank

Posted by Rebecca Parker on May 8, 2014 8:33:00 AM


These are exciting times for those seeking novel therapies to better treat and cure cancer. Unlocking the genetic mechanisms underlying the multitude of cancer types and subtypes can help optimize targeted drug development and ultimately, accelerate new clinical treatments. And, it’s worth noting that the emerging viability of molecular medicine and personalized cancer treatment has captured the attention of the investment community, with nearly 30 biotech companies successfully going public this year. According to a recent article, “there hasn’t been an IPO window of this magnitude since the 2000 time frame.” Investor interest can increase the urgency to accelerate pre-clinical cancer research so that promising therapies can move to human trials and eventually to commercialization, where patients are waiting.

Read More

Subscribe to the Conversant Bio blog

New Call-to-action