Hazards Associated with Human Cells and Tissues

The primary safety concern regarding the use of human tissues is the risk of infection, and this will depend upon a number of basic criteria including:

• The quantity of each tissue sample received.

• The number of samples to be received.

• The background of the donor cohort: risk groups include individuals not screened for viral infection, and lifestyle risks such as foreign travel or a history of intravenous drug abuse.

• The degree of manipulation and dissection required for each specimen.

• The type of test system (i.e., closed or open to the laboratory atmosphere).

Where available, virological test data and lifestyle questionnaires from donors can be helpful to identify higher-risk patient tissue, thus enhancing safety for laboratory staff. However, it should be borne in mind that a negative antiviral antibody test on a tissue donor may miss infections where antibody has not yet been produced in the infected donor. Other important factors in containment of infectious risks for both tissues and cell lines are: (1) the careful use of aseptic techniques for cell processing; (2) storing new untested material in quarantine storage vessels; and (3) the careful control of waste disposal procedures. All of these measures are in turn critically dependent on effective staff training and an awareness of risks in the laboratory environment.

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