Accurate results are vital in scientific research and healthcare, especially when testing and analysing materials such as biological samples. Anything that disrupts the precise measurements needed to analyse a substance can cause a ripple effect that can be serious. Whether experts are undertaking clinical studies, developing drugs or working on genetic research projects, the integrity of the biological samples they use is paramount. Below, you will find some of the main reasons that correct biological sample storage needs to be undertaken and how improper storage could cause significant problems.
Preserving the integrity of samples
Some biological samples are very delicate, whether you are working with cells, tissues, RNA or DNA, and they could degrade if not stored correctly. Obtaining accurate data when testing may not be possible if samples are stored incorrectly, and this can set a project back or, worse still, derail it altogether.
Factors such as exposure to light and the temperature and humidity of the storage can all contribute to the degradation of a sample. Therefore, it is vital to carefully consider each sample’s properties to define the best storage method.
Consistency in testing
Ensuring all samples are stored similarly for the same tests is critical in order to maintain consistency in the way that such tests are undertaken, providing more accurate results. If a sample that has been stored correctly is tested along with one that has not, the resulting data could be confusing at best or damaging at worst.
Good lab management, including proper attention to storage and lab testing conditions, can help to avoid this.
A vital part of biological sample management is the temperature at which it is stored, as different materials must be kept at different temperatures. For example, DNA and tissue samples must be stored at low (freezing) temperatures to help prevent degradation, whereas whole blood should not be frozen dependent on the prospective analyses. Not only will this assist with consistency in testing, but it will also help to extend how long the biological samples last.
Regular temperature checks should be undertaken to ensure the equipment used to store your biological samples is maintained correctly. This will help to avoid issues that may result in the degradation of samples. Furthermore, it is essential to train staff to use cold storage effectively, such as only accessing material when needed and not leaving storage containers open for any longer than necessary.
Accurate storage is also vital to prevent contamination. When samples are incorrectly stored, cross-contamination could occur, which would lead to rendering samples useless for analysis. Labs must have strict protocols for handling and storing samples to avoid cross-contamination.
For a study to be valid, it is vital that analytical reproducibility can be tested. Ensuring suitable biological sample storage is crucial to ensure reproducibility. That way, all the conditions should be implemented to allow an independent party to validate the results of your study. If your study cannot be shown to be reproducible, the validity of the work will be called into question.
Simply put, effective biological sample storage cannot only ensure that your experiments or testing do not result in harm to any person but also that they do not cost you more money than you need in wasted materials. Effective sample storage is the cornerstone of good lab management; with it, you can ensure that accurate, reliable and reproducible results will be determined.