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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Human Research Tissue Banks: The ATRA Project for Establishing a Human Research Tissue Bank in Switzerland

Massimo Tettamanti, Sara Tralamazza, Marina Berati, Max Molteni and Natascia Gamba

A large number of experiments in biomedical research are carried out on tissues, but, even though the results should be applicable to humans, these tissues are mainly of animal origin. The difficulty encountered in obtaining human organs and tissues is an acknowledged problem: not enough human tissues are available to meet research needs. We are introducing the ATRA Project, with the purpose of supporting progress in biomedical research in Switzerland through the establishment of one or more human tissue banks, which will be able to find, treat, preserve and supply human material. Where similar projects have already been launched, concerns have been expressed that donation for research purposes might compete with donation for transplantation, but most organs and tissues are in any case non-transplantable. Surplus surgical tissue is considered “sanitary waste”, and must be treated according to specific regulations for collection, packaging, transport, treatment and disposal. A human tissue bank would not only abate the costs of treating sanitary waste, but would actually turn what is now considered waste into a resource which could be used to save human and animal lives.