In medical studies, doctors and pharmaceutical professionals often need tissue samples to test drugs or other stimuli out and in doing so, learn more about the human body. It comes as no surprise, then, that tissue with a certain disease or other maladies would be of great value to researchers.
This tissue is often subject to advanced testing to see if new breakthrough drugs will be better than their predecessors without risking any living person. It also means there is a lot more room for trial and error, as no person’s quality of life is in direct jeopardy.
One lesser known side of this wonderful process is the need for what is called a “control group.” In every experiment, scientists need a group that is unaltered by experimentation so that they can tell when something has changed. This control group in the case of human samples is tissue (often blood) from perfectly healthy individuals.
The Scientific Method
The scientific method outlines the manner in which scientists should perform experiments, and as such, has been the gold standard of experimentation since the 17th century. It is widely accepted to be the best way to go about research. Part of what makes it a good standard is that it relies on a controlled experiment in order to make observations. In a controlled experiment, the tester has a dependent and an independent variable. The dependent is the thing that is changed, in this case, diseased or deformed tissue. The independent is the reference group, what you check to see what normal looks like. In this case, the independent is the normal tissue samples. Without the independent group, an experiment is not considered done properly and the results can be considered not credible, meaning wasted research. It also means scientists have a very hard time telling if certain experiments are successful, as they do not have a normal thing to reference.
Normal Samples Allow more Exotic Tests
Normal, healthy samples also allow for a wider range of testing. Sick or specific disease type samples cannot be manipulated as much as researchers would like. They are limited by the circumstances they get the tissue in. Normal samples allow them to create their own situations and allow for a greater test type variety. Take for example toxicity testing. Normally, this type of testing is done on animals. With healthy human tissue, this type of testing can be done without the animal component and can yield more accurate results not possible without healthy human tissue.
Faster, More Accurate Results
Results with plentiful healthy human tissues can also be faster coming and more accurate to boot. The logic follows that the more times you make something work, the more likely it is to work again. More samples equal the more times researchers can prove a concept; and, therefore get more proven medical advancements to patients more quickly than they could otherwise. Results can also be more accurate, as strange outcomes are less likely to throw off the data. A greater supply of samples means a greater supply of data, which is a good thing to have.
The final and arguably most important aspect to having healthy human samples is safety. When researchers have access to plenty of healthy human samples, they need fewer people to participate in studies when the time for clinical trials rolls around. These studies are also much safer to be a part of as they have been able to filter out many of the more unsavory side effects safely in the lab. Additionally, human tissue samples on hand can minimize the need for animals to be used in trials increasing accuracy and minimizing both cost and ethical concerns.
Why donations are essential for continuing research
Researchers are fighting an ever increasing battle against the clock as widespread chronic illness grows. Healthy human samples are not something easily acquired, and almost all of the supply comes from donations from people willing to contribute. Donating blood or other biospecimens such as urine and saliva to research not only helps get better medicine out faster, it helps give people burdened with disease a chance for a better tomorrow.
"Scientific Method Explained." The Biology Corner. The Biology Corner, 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
Kapp, M. B. "Ethical and Legal Issues in Research Involving Human Subjects: Do You Want a Piece of Me?" Journal of Clinical Pathology. BMJ Group, 2006. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
"Alternatives to Animal Testing." Cruelty Free International. Cruelty Free International, 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.