Increasing human tissue use

It is increasingly recognised that the use of human tissue (including surgical discard, tissue not suitable for transplant and post-mortem material) is essential for better understanding human health and disease, in the development of safe and efficacious products, and to reduce the reliance on animal models in basic research and chemical development. However significant barriers exist which prevent researchers from adopting human tissue-based approaches more widely.

Working closely with researchers from academia and industry, international regulatory agencies and other key stakeholders, we have embarked on a programme of work to explore, understand and address these barriers. Our initial focus has been human tissue use in asthma research and safety assessment in drug development, but the general recommendations and resources available are more widely applicable across the biosciences.  

We have carried out surveys of both the UK asthma research community and the global drug safety assessment community to better understand the extent of human tissue use and the potential barriers to wider adoption in these areas. Both surveys identified the same key barriers, which include:

  • A confusing and complex regulatory landscape;
  • Access to a regular and sustainable supply of human tissue;
  • Practicalities associated with acquisition and storage of human tissue.

This information, together with wider expert engagement has helped to inform the approach we have adopted to increase the use of human tissue to maximise the 3Rs and scientific benefits.

Through this web resource researchers can find practical information on how to navigate the regulatory landscape to access tissue and the various sources of human tissue available to them; as well as specific resources to support scientists in applying human tissue-based approaches in asthma research and drug safety assessment.  

Recommendations and guidance for accessing human tissue.
Recommendations for working within the regulatory framework.
Supporting wider adoption of human tissue models for asthma research and drug development.
An NC3Rs/MHRA project to increase the use of human tissue models for safety assessment of new drugs.