Samples for Science – how we can all help medical research

Photo of a lab technician's gloved hand holding a pipette
Image credit: PublicDomainPictures via pixabay

Doctors want to help make disease diagnosis quicker and easier for their patients. We’d all prefer a finger-prick test in a GP surgery to a 12-week wait for an uncomfortable colonoscopy. Personalised medicine based on a patient’s own genetic profile is no longer science fiction, it’s science fact. Research using human tissue samples makes these advancements possible.

Dr Morag McFarlane, a University of Glasgow alumnus, realised that there was a high demand for human tissue samples in medical research. Whether it’s poo from vegans, urine from healthy volunteers, blood from people with allergies or small skin biopsies from people with eczema, all are needed for the discovery and development of new diagnostic tests and therapies. 

Morag founded her company, Tissue Solutions Ltd., to help improve the lives of people living with health conditions. By increasing the number of human samples available for research, she’s also hoping to reduce the number of animals used in research. Experiments using human tissue from donors is more ethical – people can consent to their tissue being used in this way. It also provides data that is more biologically relevant than research carried out using mice.

Tissue Solutions supports a number of contract research organisations, one of which is Aquila BioMedical (a Concept Life Sciences Company). Tissue Solutions provide the company with fresh human blood samples for their research.  Aquila BioMedical use the samples for in vitro characterisation of candidate immunotherapy drugs.  Using high quality blood samples makes it possible to measure the efficacy of promising new anti-cancer therapies within a human model. The fresher the blood the more representative the in vitro assays are of potential effects in patients.

Tissue Solutions has a volunteer donor database for anyone who would be happy to donate samples for science. If you want to find out more, you can visit the Tissue Solutions website. If you sign up to their donor database, they will contact you when they think you might be suitable for a particular study:

This article was specialist edited and copy-edited by Katrina Wesencraft.


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