Best Methods of Collecting Animal Biological Products for Research

Animal biologicals include whole blood, plasma, serum, hormones, body fluid, glands, and tissues. The objective of collecting the biologicals is to ensure that they are free of every form of contamination. The principles that determine the collection of high-quality animal biologicals are determined by the animal source, the collection process and the storage of the products.

The animals in question should be antibiotic and anti-parasitic-free. The feed and water given to the animals must be certified to be free of any form of contamination. The animals should be healthy in every ramification, without merely the absence of disease. Sick or diseased animals should not be used as sources of biologicals. Any antibiotics to be administered to any animal should be certified by a veterinarian and must be given at least 21 days before the biologicals are collected. Antibiotic contamination limits the use of the biologicals and skews results. Parasitic contamination affects the integrity of tissue samples.

The samples should be collected when the animals are least stressful, as stress affects the quality of the samples. Sometimes, the biologicals have to be collected from genetically modified and pregnant animals for specific studies of such diseases as endocrine disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. The samples should be collected in the least painful manner. The conditions for the collection process must be aseptic in line with regulations for research. These regulations guide the restraint of the animals, the disinfection of the collection site, and the use of proper equipment. Collection sites should be shaved, and disinfected with 70% alcohol before and after the collection of blood.  New syringes should be used for each animal, and used syringes should be disposed immediately and appropriately. Biological products may be collected at abattoirs pre-slaughter or from donor animals on farms.

Blood is collected though a vacutainer and then transferred into vials, bottles or bags. It is more preferable to use a vacutainer instead of a syringe. To collect sera for serological analysis, no anti-coagulants are used. The blood sample should be made to stand at ambient temperatures for 1-2 hours. If the collection of whole blood is the goal, then the collecting receptacle would contain one of the following anti-coagulants: Sodium Heparin, Alsevers Solution, Sodium EDTA, or Sodium Citrate. The different anticoagulants have different properties and are suitable for different laboratory procedures. Whole blood samples should be transported to the laboratory at 40C and not frozen.

Blood collection without fluid replacement is restricted to 10% of the total blood volume on a single occasion. Where blood collection would be regularly repeated, a canula may be used to reduce stress. At least 2.5ml and at most 10ml of blood should be collected per animal for an analysis.

Tissue harvest should be started immediately after euthanasia to prevent bacterial contamination through intestinal seepage. Organs should be observed in situ before tissue samples are removed. Tissues may be immediately fixed to prevent decay, autolysis and putrefaction, and thus preserve cells for examination. 10% buffered formalin is best for fixing tissues. The downside to preserving tissue with formalin is that it ruins the examination of the tissue for certain tests, such as microbial examination.  Alternatively, tissue may be refrigerated at 40C for short periods or frozen at -100C for longer periods.

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