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Patients Against Lymphoma


Treatments > Vaccines > Harvesting and Handling of Tissue Specimens

Last update: 03/09/2005

Harvesting and Handling of Tissue Specimens for Vaccine Manufacturing

Adapted from Genitope fact sheet. This information is specific 
to the MyVax vaccine protocol.  We post this as it may provide talking points when patients make inquires about how to harvest tissue optimally at biopsies.

  • Never place tissue in formalin or other preservatives.

  • Do not collect tissue using heparin.

  • Do not place any tissue in heparinized containers, or tubes with heparin solution

  • Do not use heparin when collecting CT- or ultrasound-guided aspirates, core biopsies, FNA specimens or bone marrow.

  • Do not put core biopsies in OCT

  • Tissue blocks cannot be used to manufacture vaccine.

  • Except for peripheral blood, all specimens should be kept cold (either on 'wet' or dry ice) to prevent RNA degradation.

  • If transporting a specimen on 'wet' ice, cover fresh tissue with normal saline to reduce RNA degradation.

  • Freshly excised lymph nodes (LN) are the preferred tissue.  Tissue should be immediately placed in an appropriate container (tight screw top) of normal saline and shipped on 'wet' ice.

  • Amount of LN tissue required to manufacture vaccine:

    • minimum dimension of ~ 0.3 cm

    • 2-3 smaller specimens are better than one large sample, but avoid creating 'diced' specimens.

    • Excisional lymph nodes should be less than or equal to 1.0 gram.

  • Collect core biopsies using an 1-14 gauge needle to yield a core biopsy ~0.2 cm in diameter by at least 1 cm in length.

  • Core biopsy snap freezing must occur immediately to freeze the tissue solid to prevent RNA degradation.

    • Immediately place in a container and placing on dry ice until frozen solid (~ 10 minutes), or

    • Immediately place in liquid nitrogen for ~ 20 seconds or, in ultra low temperature freezer (-80 C) for ~ 10 minutes.

  • Fine Needle aspirates:

    • provide 2-3 aspirates (.1 - .2 cc each) in separate containers.

    • number aspirates in order of collection.

    • bloody aspirates are unlikely to yield adequate RNA.

  • Bone marrow and other core biopsies 

    • must be immediately snap frozen at the bedside to prevent RNA degradation.

    • bone marrow must be at least 30% involved with lymphoma.

  • Peripheral blood must display an absolute lymphocyte count of 5 x 106 cells/mL by manual differential. 7-10 mL of blood is needed, collected in EDTA tubes (purple tops).

Related Resources:
  • Specimen processing is the collection of fresh, quick-frozen, or formalin fixed tissue. Fresh, quick-frozen, and cryopreserved tissue is charged per vial. - healthsystem.virginia.edu


Disclaimer:  The information on Lymphomation.org is not intended to be a substitute for 
professional medical advice or to replace your relationship with a physician.
For all medical concerns,  you should always consult your doctor. 
Patients Against Lymphoma, Copyright 2004,  All Rights Reserved.