Basically, tissue resources work under one of two models: prospective collection or tissue banking. The investigator must understand the model under which a given tissue resource operates. For example, the Cooperative Human Tissue Network (CHTN) collects tissues prospectively based on the requirements of a specific investigator and does not have a large bank of previously collected tissues.
Using this “model of prospective collection”, an investigator may establish specific collection requirements such as requesting that fresh lung carcinoma be divided and supplied in RPMI 1640 and such tissues are collected and processed to meet the investigator's needs. You can also purchase tissue samples online for your research projects.
In contrast, each Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) has a tissue bank focused on an organ system. SPOREs exist for all major cancers with over 50 spore center grants currently funded. In this “tissue banking model,” samples are collected and processed according to a standard protocol.
For example, all solid tissues might be divided into 3 aliquots and frozen using the same or different preparations. The banking model has the advantage that samples may be associated with both detailed clinical information and with clinical outcomes. Also, relatively large numbers of specimens may be available initially; however, tissue processing may not meet investigator needs.
Tissues that are unavailable at one resource may be obtained from a different resource. Because of the controversial nature of some specimens (e.g., fetal or HIV tissues), some tissue resources elect not to collect such tissues; however, other tissue resources do (e.g., the AIDS and Cancer Specimen Bank). Investigators should be aware of the major resources available and the model under which each resource works