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What is Paraffin? Everything You Need To Know

What is Paraffin? Unlock The Potential of Biomedical Research

You may heard of paraffin, but likely don’t know exactly what it is. The unique substance can (and is) used widely in diverse industries. Paraffin can be found in beauty products and candles, but this incredible tool is particularly crucial in biomedical research.

Biomedical researchers now have the ability to seal tissue samples in paraffin and formalin, allowing them to examine even thinner tissue samples under a microscope than they were able to previously. By preserving human tissue samples in a paraffin and formalin compound, researchers can conduct various tests on tissue samples, diminishing the need for additional biopsy procedures. Keep reading to learn the unique and groundbreaking ways that paraffin is used throughout various industries.

What is Paraffin?

What is Paraffin?

Paraffin is derived from petroleum and shale oil. The substance is well known for its colorless, odorless, and waxy solid properties and its various applications. Liquid Paraffin, also known as mineral or white oil, has unique lubricating properties. Paraffin oil, sometimes called kerosene, is the byproduct of refining petroleum oil to fuel lamps and heaters.

Paraffin can remain in a solid state at room temperature but can also be melted easily with temperatures as low as 120℉. Thus, the versatile substance is most often found as wax and used in candles and cosmetics. Nevertheless, paraffin is also known for its critical role in preserving human tissue samples for biomedical research.

Paraffin For Tissue Preservation

Perhaps paraffin’s most useful duty is as a biomedical stabilizer. Researchers now have the ability to take smaller biopsy samples and examine the samples in great, transparent detail with the help of paraffin. Formalin-fixed Parafin-Embeded (FFPE) is a fantastic biomedical tool that prevents decay and enables the thorough examination of the tissue. Surrounding the sample with melted wax, or liquid paraffin, protects it from decay. FFPE is a preservation method that maintains the tissue sample’s composition—allowing researchers to examine thin, fragile layers without fear of damage. Samples preserved using FFPE also allow for the long-term storage of tissue samples and precise, reproducible results in histopathological research.

The use of paraffin, particularly FFPE tissue samples, mitigates every bioresearcher’s fear of encountering a false positive caused by a decaying sample. By studying FFPE tissue samples, scientists have made significant progress in analyzing genetic mutations, identifying targets for treatment, and predicting biomarkers. FFPE allows physicians to develop personalized approaches to treatment, which have led to better outcomes for patients.

Research and Diagnostics Uses

Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue specimens are used in biomedical research and clinical diagnostics to understand disease and predisposing biomarkers. Through studying FFPE samples, researchers have developed a deeper understanding of various diseases’ molecular and cellular characteristics, including cancer, infectious diseases, and neurological disorders.

FFPE tissue specimens are crucial for diagnosing diseases, evaluating their severity, and determining the best course of treatment for patients. These specimens are utilized in molecular diagnostic tests, like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and next-generation sequencing (NGS), to identify genetic mutations and other changes related to the disease.

Is Paraffin Wax Toxic?

Thankfully, paraffin wax on its own is considered safe and non-toxic. It is a trusted substance often used in cosmetics, candles, and food packaging. However, when used in combination with formalin, paraffin can become toxic. Though paraffin wax is a safe and versatile option for tissue preparation, the process of preparing FFPE samples requires formalin, which is known to be poisonous and should be handled professionally.

Yield Clear Results With Paraffin-Embedded Tissue Samples

Paraffin preserves the integrity of tissue samples and enables the accurate analysis of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples. By encasing tissue specimens in a solid wax matrix, paraffin enables long-term storage and allows the safe examination of thin, delicate sections. Paraffin has advanced, and will continue to advance, pivotal tissue preservation techniques in biomedical research.

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The Most Common Types of Tissue Samples and Their Uses

Human Tissue and Biological Samples for Use in Research: 3 Common Types & Their Purposes

Human biological samples are a staple of scientific research. Whether collected from living or diseased human patients, these specimens are vital for various areas of health care. In routine clinical care, tissue and biological samples are used for diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring of various diseases. On the other hand, in a research context, these specimens are crucial for creating new treatments, understanding human biology, and advancing medical knowledge.

Have you ever wondered what types of specimens are used in research and medical care? This article addresses 3 common types of human and biological samples used in various scientific fields. You’ll learn about the common types of tissue samples, how these specimens are collected, what type of tissue is best for DNA extraction, and more. If you’d like to learn more about the fascinating world of tissue samples in research, keep reading!

The Most Common Types of Tissue Samples and Their Uses

3 Common Types of Human Tissue and Biological Samples Used in Research

1. Epithelial, Connective, Muscle, and Nervous Tissue Samples

There are numerous types of tissue in the human body. Human tissue samples are often organized into four categories:

  • Epithelial Tissue: Epithelial tissue is found in your organs and internal and external body surfaces and is the most prominent tissue in glands. The lining of your intestines and respiratory tract, sweat glands, and the outer layer of your skin (epidermis) are a few types of epithelial tissue in your body. 
  • Connective Tissue: Structures that support and protect other tissues or organs in the human body. Connective tissue often stores fat, aids in transporting nutrients between tissues and organs, and helps restore damaged tissue. Connective tissues include bone, cartilage, lymphatic, and fat tissue. 
  • Muscle Tissue: Muscle tissue comprises cells that shorten and contract to move different body parts. Muscle tissue is often arranged in layers and surrounded by connective tissue. The 3 types of muscle tissue are skeletal, cardiac, and smooth. 
  • Nervous Tissue: The main tissue component of the nervous system. Nervous tissue comprises neurons and neurological cells that control and coordinate countless body activities. This tissue type is prevalent in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.

The body’s various anatomical regions usually include multiple of the types of tissue samples mentioned above. For example, the lungs are lined with epithelial tissue, supported by connective tissue, regulated by nervous tissue, and contract and relax with smooth muscle tissue. Whether you’re collecting tissue from the brain or cervix, multiple types of tissue samples are most likely present in the anatomical site. Once collected, properly preserving the human tissue samples is essential. Standard preservation techniques include fixing specimens in formalin and embedding in wax, known as Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded (FFPE) tissue, or rapid freezing in liquid nitrogen, referred to as fresh frozen tissue. Preservation helps maintain the tissue’s cellular structures and molecular makeup, crucial for accurate research results.

How Are Tissue Samples Used in Research?

Human tissue samples are invaluable sources of information for researchers, aiding in advancing scientific research and improving our understanding of health and disease. Here are a few areas of study that use human tissue samples:

  • Biomarker Discovery: Tissue samples help researchers identify biomarkers, which are molecules that point out a specific disease or physiological state. Biomarkers aid in early disease detection, diagnosis, and monitoring. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is a common technique used in biomarker analysis, determining the location of a particular protein in the tissue or call sample. FFPE tissue blocks collected from individuals carrying various diseases are usually the preferred tissue type used in biomarker research.
  • Disease Research: Biospecimens assist researchers in understanding how diseases affect the body at a cellular level. For instance, FFPE malignant tissue samples are analyzed for better insight into tumor growth, metastasis, and microenvironment. 
  • Drug Development and Testing: Various pharmaceuticals are tested on different types of tissue samples to assess their safety and viability before progressing to clinical trials. Drug testing also includes testing for pharmaceuticals’ potential side effects or toxicity. Drug development can involve numerous FFPE, fresh frozen, or fresh specimens collected from differing anatomical regions. 
  • Neuroscience Study: Normal, malignant, and disease-state brain tissue samples are critical in understanding neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis. 

Numerous additional research fields use human tissue samples, including developmental biology, immunological studies, genetic analysis, regenerative medicine, and more. There’s no doubt that human tissue samples are paramount to our understanding of the human body and its intricacies.

2. Biofluids

Biofluids is the shortened term for biological fluids. Biofluids are collected from the human body in primarily 3 ways: excretion (e.g., sweat), secretion (e.g., breast milk), or extraction (e.g., blood). Here’s a list of the common forms of biofluids used for research purposes:

  • Blood
  • Urine
  • Sweat
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Bile
  • Breast Milk
  • Plasma
  • Saliva
  • Stool
  • Swabs (nasal, oral, and vaginal fluids)

How Are Biofluids Used in Research?

Biofluids are primarily used to identify, diagnose, and monitor illnesses. However, that’s not all they offer to scientific research; biofluid specimens also make it possible to detect harmful substances in the body, discover the amount of specific proteins or hormones present, and estimate the concentration of drugs. Additionally, these fluids are necessary for biomarker studies, helping scientists and medical professionals track the biological components associated with certain diseases.

In 2020, biofluids proved especially important when COVID-19 instigated a worldwide lockdown. People were diagnosed with COVID-19 using a simple nasal swab during this period. Researchers had to obtain sufficient swab samples from patients with suspected COVID-19 (asymptomatic and symptomatic) and subjects without exposure to COVID-19. Without biofluids, researchers and medical professionals wouldn’t have been able to diagnose or study COVID-19.

3. Cells

Cell samples are groups of cells that can be obtained from biofluids, biopsies, or tissue samples. Below is a list of cell sample types used in scientific research:

  • Myoblasts
  • Buffy Coat
  • Bone Marrow
  • Mononuclear Cells
  • Fibroblasts
  • Epithelial Cells
  • RBCs

How Are Cell Samples Used in Research?

Countless researchers use cell samples for scientific analysis. Here are 2 of the common scientific areas to which cell samples contribute significantly:

  • Drug Development: Before new drugs are released, testing their safety and efficacy using cell samples is essential. Researchers utilize human cells, separated from blood or tissue samples, to assess how drugs could react to cells, their toxicity, and their possible healing effects. This testing is crucial for scientists to perform before advancing to animal models and human clinical trials.
  • Cell Biology Research: Basic cell biology research is integral to understanding a cell or tissue type’s inner workings. While some scientists may use immortalized cell lines, this field of study often requires researchers to obtain primary human cells from patients that carry the disease or indication of interest.

Human cells contribute to cancer research, regenerative medicine, and genetic and molecular biology studies. The main advantage of human cells is that they allow scientists to simplify a disease and focus on a small number of variables. Human cell samples help us better understand basic physiology and dive deeper into numerous diseases affecting countless subjects.

3 FAQs Regarding Tissue and Biological Samples for Use in Research

Here are 3 popular questions we hear regarding specimens that are used in medical research:

1. What’s the best tissue for a DNA sample?

Tissue collected from the brain, heart, or kidney is best for DNA samples.

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Our study suggested that quality and quantity of DNA extracted from tissues of putrefied unidentifiable human corpse was best seen in brain followed by heart and kidney preserved at -80℃ and 4℃. Muscles were found to be least useful for DNA extraction.”

2. How are human tissue and biological samples collected?

Biobanks, hospitals, and laboratories collect tissue and biological samples from voluntary donors. Patients can donate the leftover tissue samples, blood, and other specimens to these professional institutions following lab tests, surgeries, or other medical appointments. Medical facilities like biobanks prepare, store, and keep track of these samples, providing them for international research purposes. Researchers can then order specific types of tissue and biological samples from these facilities, aiding them in learning more about human health and the overall quality of life.

3. Which preservation method is the best for tissue samples?

FFPE is often the gold standard for tissue preservation. Researchers have relied on FFPE tissue samples for decades, knowing this form of conservation and storage holds together the specimens’ original structures and molecular makeups. Since FFPE tissue samples can be stored for up to a decade, scientists rely on this form of preservation for long-lasting studies and research purposes.

Order Quality Tissue and Biological Samples for Your Research Purposes

Do you need specific tissue and biological samples for use in your unique research purposes? At Superior BioDiagnostics, we have thousands of tissue samples ready to satisfy your scientific needs. Our biobank is stocked with normal, malignant, and disease-state FFPE tissue from various anatomical sites such as the brain, lungs, skin, and more. Don’t wait to receive the highest-quality tissue samples for your analysis. Contact Superior BioDiagnostics’ team to order your FFPE tissue samples today!


How to Prepare Tissue Samples For Microscope Slides: A Step-By-Step Guide

How to Prepare Tissue Samples For Microscope Slides: A Step-By-Step Guide

Histology technicians play a significant role in biological research. Without these scientific experts, we wouldn’t have tissue slides carrying thin sections of biospecimens ready for microscopic analysis. Tissue samples prepared for microscope slides have radically impacted science; researchers can study cellular structures, disease traits, and the effects of various treatments on specimens. Pathologists can accurately diagnose diseases such as cancer, inflammatory conditions, and bacterial infections. Without histology technicians, we wouldn’t have tissue samples properly prepared for microscopic analysis. 

You may ask the question, “How do histology technicians prepare tissue samples for microscope slides?” In this blog, we share the 5 steps it takes to prepare human tissue samples for microscopic study. Whether you’re an experienced histology technician or simply curious about what goes into microscopic examination, this article is your guide to preparing tissue samples for microscope slides. From the fixation of human tissues to various staining techniques, you’ll walk away knowing exactly how to prepare biospecimens for microscopic research purposes. 

What You Need for Tissue Sample Preparation

Before you get started, there is an essential list of tools you will need for tissue sample preparation. The supplies list depends on the tissue type and what you’re using the biospecimen for. However, here are some staples you’ll most likely need when you prepare tissue samples for microscope slides

  • Fixatives (e.g., formalin, glutaraldehyde, etc.)
  • Processing solutions (e.g., xylene, ethanol, and other solutions as needed)
  • Embedding medium
  • Microtome or cryostat
  • Staining agents
  • Water bath
  • High-quality slides and coverslips
  • Slide labels
  • Slide storage boxes

Remember that the supplies you need for tissue preparation vary depending on the tissue type, staining method, and studies to be conducted. Ensure that you follow the protocols and safety guidelines of your laboratory or scientific institution when prepping tissue samples for microscopic analysis.

Tissue Sample Preparation for Microscope Slides: 5 Simple Steps You Can Follow

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary material, you’re ready to prepare tissue samples for microscope slides. Whether you’re new to it or not, you likely understand how large of an undertaking tissue sample preparation is. That’s why we’re here to give you a complete step-by-step guide to preparing tissue samples for microscopic study. Below are the 5 steps you can follow to prepare tissue samples for microscope slides

Fix the biospecimens

After obtaining the fresh tissue sample, it must be fixated, whether that’s through freezing or chemical fixation. It’s important to start the fixation process immediately after collecting the biospecimen, ensuring that it holds its original structures and molecular makeup. In turn, you’ll get the best results! Fixation is critical for the rest of the tissue sample preparation. Fixation preserves the chemical composition of the biospecimen, securing and hardening the sample to initiate easy sectioning. Below are the two primary types of fixation that researchers use for tissue sample preparation:

  • Fixative Solution: Researchers immerse biospecimens in a chemical fixative solution for 6–24 hours shortly after collection. Neutral Buffered Formalin or Paraffin-formalin are popular, effective solutions scientists and laboratories use for chemical fixation. Fixative solutions must penetrate every part of the biospecimen, preserving the sample and preparing it for microscopic analysis. 
  • Freezing: Scientists submerge the tissue samples in a tissue-freezing medium, which is then immersed in liquid nitrogen. Freezing biospecimens is an alternative to the fixative solution method and is preferred by researchers who need an immediate diagnosis.

Fixing human tissue samples, whether by freezing or using a chemical fixative, assists in preserving specimens and preventing degradation. Once you fixate the biospecimens, they’re ready to be processed. 

Process the tissue samples

Tissue processing can be performed with an automated machine or by hand, preparing the biospecimen for sectioning. Here are three general steps involved in tissue processing:

  1. Dehydration: Before converting the biospecimen into a solid form appropriate for sectioning, it must undergo dehydration. Ethanol is a popular agent used for the dehydration process. Ethanol removes water from the tissue sample and hardens it for microscopic use. Researchers immerse the specimen in multiple ethanol solutions of increasing intensity, ensuring that the tissue is free of water and formalin. 
  2. Clearing: After the submergence of ethanol and before the embedment of wax, the tissue sample needs an in-between “clearing” medium that is compatible with both paraffin wax and ethanol. Xylene is a popular solvent that rids tissue of ethanol and prepares it for infiltration of wax. 
  3. Embedding: Using an embedding center, the biospecimen is placed into a mold of molten wax (typically paraffin wax), forming what is called a “block” ready for sectioning. The newly created block is then cooled and prepared for thin-section cutting. Embedding also preserves the cellular structure of a tissue sample, making it more compatible with succeeding tissue sample preparation steps.

Processing helps preserve the integrity of tissue samples, leading to more accurate analysis and improving scientific diagnostics. Processed biospecimens also absorb stains more effectively and can be stored long-term in a biobank if needed. In summary, proper processing sets you up for success during the rest of the tissue sample preparation procedure.

Cut the biospecimens into sections

Now, your biospecimen is ready to be cut into sections on a microtome. First, the wax is removed from the surface of a block, exposing the tissue sample. Using a microtome, the biospecimen is sliced into sections no more than 4–5 micrometers. A microtome can cut continuously, creating a “ribbon” of tissue sections that are perfect for microscopy. If the sample is frozen, you’ll use a cryostat to cut it into tissue ribbons. These specimen ribbons can then be placed in a warm water bath to flatten. From here, tissue samples are easily collected for staining and examination on a microscopic slide. 

Stain the samples

Staining specimens is a vital element of tissue sample preparation. While there are numerous staining techniques, we’ll highlight a few of the most common methods below: 

  • Hematoxylin and Eosin: The use of Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) is the most widely used staining technique for pathologists. Hematoxylin is a dye that stains acidic structures, while eosin is a counterstain done after hematoxylin that marks the sample’s basic structures. The result? Cell nuclei are often colored blue/purple, and other cellular structures that attract eosin (eosinophilic structures) are stained with a pink/red hue. RNA in ribosomes or the rough endoplasmic reticulum, for instance, would be stained blue, while the cytoplasm would be colored pink. 
  • Gram Staining: Gram staining is used primarily to differentiate bacterial species according to the physical and chemical components of their cell walls. With the help of a gram stain, differing bacteria will change one of two different color sets (purple to blue or pink to red). Bacteria are then labeled as “gram-positive” or “gram-negative” according to their coloring. Gram-positive bacteria contain a hefty layer of peptidoglycan, making them appear purple. Gram-negative bacteria, on the other hand, hold a thin layer of peptidoglycan and other lipids in the cell wall, which washes out the violet in the decolorization process and stains them pink. Gram staining aids in diagnosing bacterial infections and the types of bacteria causing the illness.
  • Masson’s Trichrome: Masson’s trichrome staining is a popular method that produces multicolor results on biospecimens. In a trichrome staining procedure, collagen is stained blue, muscle tissue is colored red, cytoplasm is dyed pink, and nuclei have a dark brown tint. The trichrome technique can distinguish collagen from muscle and identify pulmonary fibrosis, cardiac fibrosis, chronic kidney disease, muscular dystrophy, and various tumors of muscle origin.

Staining tissue samples enhances scientific studies by identifying a tissue sample’s components such as proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. Varied stains can also aid in diagnosing diseases, differentiating normal and abnormal specimens, and detecting the presence and location of particular proteins. Overall, staining helps histologists better understand the minuscule structure and function of normal, malignant, and disease-state tissues. 

Mount the tissue sample sections for microscopic examination

After the biospecimen has been stained, the tissue sample section is ready to be mounted between a slide and coverslip, ensuring that it’s secure and ready for microscopic examination. Outlined below are the steps of mounting a slide: 

  1. Apply a single drop of an aqueous-based or resinous mounting medium onto the tissue section.
  2. Hold the coverslip at a 45° angle and allow the drop to spread to the edge of the slip. 
  3. Gently let go of the slip so it covers the tissue section, allowing the medium to spread slowly and cover the biospecimen completely.

It’s important to utilize a clearing agent that’s compatible with the mounting medium, preventing issues in the mounting stage. It’s also necessary to label each slide with the patient ID, tissue type, and date. After mounting your biospecimen, it’s ready to be stored for observation under a microscope! Store tissue samples in a cool, dark place to prevent the fading of stains.

Receive the Finest Tissue Samples Prepared for Microscopic Study

Do you want to skip the tissue sample preparation process and invest in high-quality biospecimens prepared exclusively for microscopic analysis? Superior BioDiagnostics has everything you need and more. Our biorepository is stocked with thousands of normal, malignant, and disease-state FFPE tissue samples ready for your research purposes. We provide biospecimens from just about every anatomical site in the form of blocks, slides, and sections. 

We collect tissue samples that are 100% US-procured and processed, ensuring you receive the purest biospecimens for microscopic analysis. Superior Biobank’s team can also include data on the tissue sample’s tumor type (if applicable), TNM stage, histologic grade, and donor demographics to improve your discoveries. Contact Superior Biobank to order pre-prepared tissue samples for your microscopic study.


Biospecimen Storage & Preservation: A Guide for Researcher

Biospecimen Storage & Preservation: A Guide for Researchers

Biospecimens are a key part of modern scientific research. After collection, tissue samples are preserved and prepared for distribution, ensuring researchers receive only the highest-quality tissue samples. During the preservation process, it’s vital to maintain biospecimens’ original structures and molecular makeups. One misstep in this process could compromise the tissue sample’s effectiveness for research purposes and drug development. This information raises the question: how exactly do you store biospecimens effectively?

In this blog post, we share everything you need to know about biospecimen storage. We answer common questions such as, “What’s the best way to preserve tissue samples?” and “Why is tissue preservation important?” We also share 3 best practices for the tissue preservation process. Keep reading to find out how you can keep tissue samples in top condition from collection to distribution!

Why is Tissue Preservation Necessary?

Proper biospecimen storage is a vital element of scientific research. Whether you’re preparing tissue samples for microscopic slides or need to extract the biospecimen’s molecules for DNA and protein analysis, tissue preservation is a skill you need to learn or, at the very least, understand.

Human tissue samples for use in oncology, spatial biology, pathology, and other biological research fields can lose their integrity and reliability without the proper temperatures and preservation conditions. The primary purpose of tissue preservation is to maintain the tissue’s original molecular and structural state without losing quality and deterioration.

Tissue preservation is especially important for long-term research and studies. Well-preserved biospecimens can be stored at a biobank for countless years, providing invaluable resources for a variety of medical research purposes. Long-term tissue sample storage allows researchers to re-examine high-quality biospecimens over the years in light of new scientific discoveries or upgraded techniques. 

Let’s take a look at a few of the best preservation methods for tissue samples.

3 Common Preservation Techniques Used for Human Tissue Samples

There is a diverse range of preservation methods within biospecimen storage. From freezing tissue samples in extremely low temperatures to fixating specimens in chemicals, tissue preservation is a learned science all on its own. However, the scientific community has relied on several popular preservation methods over the past few decades. Below are the 3 common preservation techniques scientists use for biospecimen storage

Snap-Frozen and Cryopreservation

Perhaps the most well-known preservation method is the act of freezing tissue samples. Scientists take one of two paths when freezing biospecimens: snap-freezing or cryopreserving. Let’s take a closer look at each of these preservation processes: 

Snap-freezing is the process of rapidly cooling tissue samples to temperatures below -70℃ using dry ice or liquid nitrogen. If using liquid nitrogen, researchers will place collected biospecimen samples on a cryomold or wrap them in foil, immerse them in the nitrogen, and immediately freeze them. On the other hand, researchers can use the dry ice method, placing the specimen on prepared dry ice. This method takes longer than liquid nitrogen and isn’t the preferred method. Snap-frozen tissue samples are stored in -80℃ freezers.

Cryopreservation is a long-term method of preserving samples at very low temperatures (-196℃ to -250℃) to preserve the overall integrity of cells and tissue. Cryopreservation involves the use of cryoprotectants (e.g., ethylene glycol, dimethyl sulfoxide, glycerol, etc.) to protect biospecimens from damage during the preservation process, specifically from ice crystals forming. 

Freezing tissue samples, whether through cryopreservation or snap-freezing, is a reliable preservation method used for long-term biospecimen storage. Tissue samples can be frozen for several years, maintaining their original structure and quality for an extended period.

Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded

Chemical fixation and embedding is another trusted preservation method for tissue samples. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) biospecimens are immersed in a fixative of 10% formalin. Formalin immediately stops the biological and cellular activity within specimens, stopping the decay process right after fixative immersion. After 18–24 hours, fixed specimens are then dehydrated using ethanol and prepared for embedment. The tissue samples are then embedded in paraffin wax, making it easier for the specimens to be sliced and mounted on microscopic slides. 

FFPE tissue samples can be stored indefinitely in biobanks, hospitals, laboratories, or research centers. For quality assurance reasons, fixed and embedded specimens should be stored at 4℃ with limited light exposure. FFPE tissues are compatible with a variety of histological staining techniques, such as immunohistochemistry (IHC), allowing researchers to find and locate protein structures within the biospecimen. Fixing and embedding tissue samples preserves the cellular and tissue structure of specimens, which is essential for histopathological studies. If stored at room temperature, FFPE samples can be stored for an extended amount of time, making it possible to curate extensive archives of specimens that can be used for future analysis. The fixing and embedding process of FFPE specimens is also well-standardized across the board, leading to consistently pure samples, which is paramount for comparative research.

Other Short-Term Techniques

Apart from freezing and FFPE techniques, there are other shorter-term preservation methods for biospecimen storage. Hypothermic preservation, for example, slows down the chemical processes occurring in human tissues and protects refrigerated specimens from cold-induced injuries. Tissue samples are bathed in a cold storage solution, preserving them for no longer than 1 to 2 days in low temperatures. 

Depending on the type of tissue sample, researchers can also store specimens in a refrigerator with a temperature of 2–8℃. Biospecimens stored in a refrigerator will stay preserved for just a few days, so it’s important to utilize these samples quickly for research purposes.

3 Best Practices for Tissue Preservation

Biospecimen storage is an extremely important step of tissue procurement and preservation. Here are 3 best practices to implement when storing tissue samples:

  1. Label Tissue Samples: Label tissue samples with collection date, tissue type, and preservation technique. You can also include donor demographics such as age, gender, and ethnicity. Labeling biospecimens with as much information as possible reduces errors down the line and maintains traceability for future research needs.
  2. Avoid Contamination: Rapid processing is a top priority in tissue preservation. If you want to ensure quality control, minimize the time between human tissue collection, transportation, and preservation as much as possible. Make certain that tissue samples are being handled with care and adhering to ethical guidelines 100% of the time. Rapid processing prevents the risk of unnecessary tissue contamination. 
  3. Prevent Degradation: Consistently check the condition of the stored biospecimens, ensuring the preservation methods are effective. Monitor and log the biospecimen storage temperatures, preventing degradation and breakdown of structural integrity. 

Consistency is key when it comes to tissue preservation. If you prioritize labeling samples, rapid processing, and monitoring tissues day in and day out, stored biospecimens will stay in top-notch condition. 

Preserved Tissue Samples For Your Research Goals

Superior BioDiagnostics understands how important it is to obtain tissue samples that are preserved in top-tier facilities. We provide researchers, laboratories, medical facilities, and more with high-quality biospecimens. Our team’s #1 goal is to maintain each tissue sample’s original structural and molecular state, ensuring you get the purest biospecimens for your research needs. 

Our biobank carries thousands of FFPE tissue samples, including normal, malignant, and disease-state biospecimens. Superior BioDiagnostics collects 100% US-procured chemically fixed and embedded tissue samples from the following anatomical sites: breast, lung, brain, muscle, skin, and more. Contact our biorepository to order specimens in the form of blocks, slides, and sections for your analysis. 


What Are FFPE Human Tissue Samples? Everything You Need To Know

FFPE Human Tissue Samples: Everything You Need to Know

For decades, FFPE human tissue samples have enhanced research and enabled groundbreaking healthcare discoveries. If you’re new to the FFPE preservation process, you may be curious about this method of tissue conservation that modern scientists swear by. 

In this article, we explain what FFPE means and how FFPE tissue samples are used. We also share the differences between fresh frozen tissue and FFPE specimens. Keep reading to learn how FFPE human tissue can impact your important scientific studies!

What is FFPE Tissue, And How is it Acquired?

To keep collected specimens in pristine condition, they must undergo the FFPE preservation process. FFPE stands for Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded tissue. What exactly does that mean? FFPE is a form of preservation for biospecimens, involving fixing them in formalin and embedding each sample in paraffin wax to keep the cells intact. FFPE tissue samples enhance scientific research and diagnostic development. Let’s take a look at what tissue samples undergo during the FFPE preservation process. 

Before starting the FFPE process, tissue blocks need to be collected from a donor. The accumulated specimens can be sourced from donors with both diseased and normal tissue. After excision, the tissue samples are fixed in a solution of 10% neutral-buffered formalin, stopping any biological or cellular activity in the specimen. Formalin conjoins proteins within the tissue to form chemical bonds resulting in stable protein structures that aren’t able to perform their biological functions. At this point, the natural decay process of tissue is halted altogether. After 18–24 hours, the samples are dehydrated using ethanol to eliminate any water that may disrupt the preservation effect of the paraffin wax. The specimen is then embedded in paraffin wax ensuring the tissue can easily be cut into slices of differing sizes to mount on a microscopic slide for analysis or testing. 

Once tissue samples are preserved, they’re stored in large biorepositories, hospitals, or research centers. Biorepositories usually keep records on each specimen such as when the tissue was collected and preserved and the donor’s demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, stage of diseased tissue, etc). It’s also necessary for those collecting the biospecimens to hold onto the signed consent forms from the donor and any other legal documents that could impact whether the use of FFPE tissue is permitted or not.

How FFPE Human Tissue Samples Are Used

FFPE samples are a staple for modern research. The mainstream use of FFPE human tissue is for a scientific application called immunohistochemistry (IHC). IHC is one of the most common types of immunostaining. During the immunostaining process, tissue sections are mounted on a slide and soaked in a solution containing antibodies that bind to particular structures or proteins. IHC stains aid in visualizing antibodies which, in turn, reveal what antigens are present in the tissue sample. 

Information collected during IHC is commonly used to diagnose cancer, predict treatment response, and diagnose other medical conditions. For example, a healthcare provider may remove part of a tumor and send it to a commercial laboratory to test for cancer cells. Once received, a pathologist may use IHC techniques to study the tissue sample and determine the outcome. Other applications of FFPE human tissue include the following:

  • Hematology: Researchers often use FFPE tissue samples to study blood-related disorders. Hematology is a vital field of research that’s led to the discovery of numerous cures for diseases caused by abnormalities in the blood. The study of hematology also applies to tissue regeneration, genetics, and toxicology.
  • Immunology: This area of analysis concerns the response of the immune system in both normal and diseased states. Examining FFPE specimens from an individual with an autoimmune disease can help researchers recognize how and why the disease started. Immunology also contributes to the development of treatment or therapy for those with an autoimmune disease. 
  • Comparative: Comparative research involves FFPE tissue samples collected from 100% healthy donors to differentiate varying types of biospecimens. In addition to using disease tissue for analysis, healthy samples can also be used for a variety of research and development purposes. This approach expands research beyond primarily the study of disease and enables a larger understanding of human biology.

FFPE tissue samples have become a favorite for researchers and laboratories worldwide. However, this isn’t the only preservation technique out there. Fresh frozen specimens are also trusted by scientific researchers around the globe. Let’s take a look at the main differences between these protective measures.

FFPE vs Fresh Frozen Tissue

Compared to fresh frozen biospecimens, FFPE samples have numerous advantages including decreased cost, easier storage, increased availability, and multiple-use scenarios for scientific purposes. Below are 3 reasons to consider FFPE tissue samples over fresh frozen biospecimens:

Biobanks collect biospecimens through various methods. Samples of blood, saliva, or tissue can be left over following lab tests, surgeries, and other health appointments. With consent from the patient to donate, these samples can then be sent to a biobank. For example, if a patient sees a doctor and a blood or tissue specimen is taken, part of that sample can be set aside for a biobank. Donating samples to a biobank is 100% voluntary, and people who participate are asked to sign a consent form upon contribution. Biobanking is also fully confidential, and donors’ personal information will stay private throughout the entire process.

  1. It’s typically easier and more cost-effective to store FFPE samples. When storing fresh frozen specimens, you’ll need an expensive freezer that requires consistent maintenance and massive amounts of energy. On the other hand, FFPE tissue can be kept at ambient room temperatures making it more simple and manageable to store them over time. 
  2. FFPE tissue samples are more durable than fresh frozen specimens. While FFPE samples don’t need to be refrigerated to stay in pristine condition, frozen tissue quickly deteriorates in room-temperature environments. Bear in mind that, if you’re looking for specimens that are made to last, FFPE preservation methods are the way to go.
  3. A single FFPE specimen can be used multiple times for various studies. If the tissue samples require immunostaining and morphological analysis, using FFPE specimens is preferred since an individual sample can withstand being used for numerous tests.

Although FFPE tissue samples have the upper hand in some ways, it’s important to keep in mind that certain research requires the use of fresh frozen specimens. For example, if you need to study native morphology or examine cell decay, you’ll need to invest in frozen tissue samples. Fresh frozen specimens are also commonly used to analyze DNA, RNA, and native proteins while FFPE samples may not be suitable for these purposes. When deciding between FFPE or frozen samples, take into account what your research requires and which method will best suit your needs.


Order FFPE Human Tissue Samples from Superior BioDiagnostics

If you’d like to experiment with FFPE human tissue samples, Superior BioDiagnostics is the biobank for you. With thousands of specimens collected from a variety of anatomical sites, our biorepository has what you need to further your research. We ship malignant, normal, and disease-state human tissue samples to commercial laboratories, pharmaceutical developers, leading researchers, and more. 

When you order from Superior BioDiagnostics, our team can include data on the sample’s tumor type (if applicable), TNM stage or histologic grade, and donor demographics. Don’t wait to experience how our high-quality FFPE tissue samples can catalyze your scientific research. Contact us to obtain the FFPE specimens you need to achieve your research goals.


Biobanking 101: What is Biobanking and Why is It Important for Healthcare?

Biobanking 101: What is Biobanking and Why is It Important for Healthcare?

Did you know that biobanks are perhaps one of the most critical parts of the health industry? Biobanking is the future of superior healthcare and definitive answers to scientific questions. However, you may not know much about what biobanking actually is and how it contributes to health services. 

In this article, we describe what a biobank is and why these facilities are so important. We also use this article to answer common questions regarding biobanking! Let’s start with the definition of a biobank.

What is a Biobank?

A biobank, or biorepository, is a facility that collects and stores biological samples for research purposes. Biobanks often carry the following types of human samples:

  • Blood
  • Human Tissue
  • Tumor Cells
  • Saliva
  • Urine 
  • DNA

Biobanks can also generate significant data on every sample (e.g., family history, genetic information, health records, etc.) to enhance the analysis process. While biobanks primarily carry human biospecimens, these facilities can also hold various animal biological samples. A biorepository is like a safety deposit at a bank—it keeps valuable samples safe until they’re needed. Biobanks provide scientists, researchers, laboratories, and pharmaceutical developers with samples that are vital for the following areas of study: oncology, hematology, immunology, spatial biology, and more. Biorepositories are a necessary addition to the healthcare industry and aid researchers in making groundbreaking discoveries.  

Why Is Biobanking Important?

Without biobanks, researchers wouldn’t be able to perform transformative studies that improve human health. Biobanking allows the scientific industry to answer challenging research questions. Not only that, but biorepositories expand our understanding of the human body when it comes to health and disease; stored samples contribute to discovering new and improved ways to treat a vast variety of medical conditions. It’s a well-known fact that health research can take years to complete and an expansive number of people donate their samples and data to get impactful results. However, what if we told you that biobanks can drastically cut down the time and effort it takes to perform research? Biorepositories immediately speed up scientific studies by having samples and additional data available upon researchers’ requests. 

For decades, biospecimen research has resulted in new tests for diagnosing diseases, the development of more effective treatments, and increased quality of life for individuals experiencing chronic illness. There is still so much to be discovered within the health industry, and biobanks play a foundational part in contributing to the discovery of life-altering answers and the improvement of healthcare overall for years to come.

3 FAQs About Biobanking

Here are 3 FAQs we regularly hear about biobanking:

How Do Biobanks Secure Samples?

Biobanks collect biospecimens through various methods. Samples of blood, saliva, or tissue can be left over following lab tests, surgeries, and other health appointments. With consent from the patient to donate, these samples can then be sent to a biobank. For example, if a patient sees a doctor and a blood or tissue specimen is taken, part of that sample can be set aside for a biobank. Donating samples to a biobank is 100% voluntary, and people who participate are asked to sign a consent form upon contribution. Biobanking is also fully confidential, and donors’ personal information will stay private throughout the entire process.

Who Can Donate to a Biobank?

Biobanking is an impactful way to further healthcare research. The great news is that biobanks collect samples from just about anyone! In fact, the more diversified the samples are, the more impactful the biobank is. Biobanks must carry a plethora of specimens from numerous types of donors to promote the advancement of the medical field. Samples within a biobank can carry diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and other rare illnesses. On the other hand, biorepositories also hold samples from donors who are fully healthy without a trace of sickness. Many biobanks collect malignant, normal, and disease-state samples from the same donor to enable controlled testing and comparative research. 

Where Can I Order Samples From a Biobank?

Researchers commonly order biosamples online. Numerous hospitals, research centers, and scientific organizations create biobanks to help progress the health industry. When searching for a biobank, you’ll want to make sure to find one that follows strict quality control guidelines and only collects the highest quality biospecimens. The biobank you should order from also depends on what you’re looking for whether that’s FFPE human tissue or DNA samples. If want to partner with a trusted international biorepository, you’ll want to check out our online biobank!

Invest in High-Quality Tissue Samples From an International Biobank

Do you need various types of human tissue samples for your analysis and testing? Superior BioDiagnostics is here to help. We’ve got thousands of normal, malignant, and disease-state tissue specimens stocked at our facility. From the get-go, we follow stringent quality control guidelines and ensure the collected samples are kept in pristine condition. Superior BioDiagnostics specializes in FFPE human tissue samples from the following anatomic sites: breast, cervical, lung, muscle, uterus, and more.

Whatever it is you need, we’ve got it at our biobank. With every order, we can include data on the sample’s tumor type (if applicable), TNM stage, histological grades, and donor demographics. Contact Superior BioDiagnostics to order your tissue samples and enjoy next-day shipping!