An official website of the United States government
Supporting discoveries since 1987

Biohazard and Infection Control

Preventing accidental exposure to infectious agents by research personnel who work with human tissues is of critical importance to the CHTN. Each investigator must agree to assume full responsibility for informing and training all personnel in the dangers of and procedures for safe handling of these and other human tissues. The CHTN has prepared a set of guidelines that provide detailed information and procedures for handling human tissues and body fluids used in research.*

Although this information is provided to investigators to assist them in developing working guidelines and operating procedures for their laboratory, each investigator remains responsible for the development and implementation of adequate safety procedures. Recipients of the shipment are also encouraged to be familiar with guidelines for handling human biospecimens. This is formalized by an agreement on the application form that each investigator must sign.

The CHTN does not provide fresh or frozen tissues from patients with known infections. However, because there is no universal policy on testing for infective agents such as hepatitis B and HIV (AIDS virus) and because medical histories of patients are not always indicative of infection, the CHTN can never be absolutely sure that the tissues it provides are not biohazardous. Therefore, the CHTN requires its investigators to treat all unfixed specimens as if they are contaminated. The CHTN may provide formalin-fixed or paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples from patients with such infectious agents that are known to be inactivated by this tissue processing process. Cases with infectious agents known to survive FFPE processing (Creutzfeld-Jacob or other prion disease) will not be provided.

The CHTN will continue to evaluate and incorporate any changes in the recommended guidelines or development of new laboratory requirements for the safe handling of human tissues. CHTN investigators will be informed of any new guidelines or developments.

*Grizzle WE, Bell W, Fredenburgh J. Safety in biomedical and other laboratories. In: Molecular Diagnostics. (Eds. G. Patrinos. W. Ansorg). Chapter 33, pp 421-428, 2005.

The following websites contain links to articles which may be useful to your laboratory when handling human biospecimens: