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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Sample Requirements

All samples MUST be accompanied by a referral form (pdf).

Sample Types


Sample Requirements

Blood samples

Collected in EDTA anti-coagulant tubes

  • Adults 5mls
  • Children 2-5mls
  • Neonates >1ml
  • All cystic fibrosis referrals 1ml
  • Please mix well by inverting the tube after collection.
  • Please inform the laboratory if the patient has had a recent blood transfusion or has ever had a bone marrow transplant.

Tissue samples (see below for muscle/liver biopsies for mitochondrial analysis)

  • Collect samples in sterile Universals containing 10ml of tissue transport medium (supplied by the Cytogenetics Laboratory, contact 01865 226001).
  • Larger samples, which will not fit into a 20 ml Universal, should be sent dry in a plastic sterile container.
  • Do NOT fix these tissues.
  • Tissue samples can be transported at room temperature and they should be sent to arrive as soon as possible after collection, i.e. by hospital transport or courier.

Muscle/liver biopsies (for mitochondrial genetic analysis)

  • Snap frozen immediately in liquid nitrogen.
  • Ideally >50mg tissue; if quantity is limited 5-10mg may be sufficient; please note that this laboratory does not perform respiratory chain enzyme analysis and so a separate sample must be sent elsewhere if this analysis is also required.
  • Packaged on dry ice and sent by courier.
  • The laboratory should be warned in advance of their dispatch.
  • Avoid sending samples to arrive at the weekend or just prior to a Bank Holiday.

Saliva samples

  • Samples should be collected in Oragene.DNA collection vials (supplied on request by the DNA Laboratory, contact 01865 225594).
  • Once the saliva sample has been mixed with the Oragene.DNA solution it is stable at room temperature for a few years (refer to the manufacturer's collection protocol supplied with each kit).
  • Collection vials can be returned to the laboratory by 1st class post at room temperature.
  • Samples should be collected in OrageneDNA collection vials (supplied on request by the DNA Laboratory, contact 01865 225594).

Urine samples (for mitochondrial genetic analysis)

  • 20ml of an early morning sample in a suitable sterile container, such as 20ml Universal.
  • Ensure sample will arrive in the laboratory within 24 hours of collection (send by courier if necessary).
  • Avoid sending samples to arrive at the weekend or just prior to a Bank Holiday.

DNA samples

  • DNA samples can be transported at room temperature. DNA is stable for one year at room temperature if suspended in a suitable buffer, e.g. TE.
  • DNA samples should be sent door to door to arrive as soon as possible; i.e. 1st class post is satisfactory for most samples, overnight courier transport is preferable for urgent samples, e.g. for prenatal analysis.
  • If there is an unavoidable delay prior to dispatch, DNA samples can be stored in a refrigerator at 4oC.


Sample labelling

Samples must be labelled with:

  • patient's full name (surname / family name and given/individual name)
  • date of birth and unique NHS/hospital number
  • date of collection.

Sample handling and storage

  • All samples should be sent directly to the laboratory to arrive as soon as possible after collection, i.e. hospital transport, first class post, courier service etc.
  • Samples can be stored overnight at +4oC if there is an unavoidable delay between sample collection and dispatch.
  • Please DO NOT FREEZE blood samples.
  • Blood is stable at room temperature for <7days. DNA yield but not quality will decrease over time.

Sample packaging

  • Samples must be packaged to comply with PI650, for Category B biological substances.
    Packaging Instruction PI650 (pdf)

    This includes samples sent by post or courier.

  • Packaging comprises 3 components. A primary leak-proof receptacle within a secondary leak-proof packaging contained in a rigid outer package. Sufficient absorbent material must be placed between the primary and secondary packaging to entirely contain any spillage.
  • The outer package should be clearly labelled "UN3373, Biological substance Category B".

High risk samples (hazardous biological agents)

For samples known/likely to be infected with hazardous biological agents (hazard group 3 or above, e.g. HIV, Hepatitis B/C, prions, mycobacterium tuberculosis):

  • the nature of the risk must be clearly marked on the referral card.
  • the sample tube should be clearly labelled (e.g. 'Danger of Infection' tape) to indicate the high risk nature.
  • If information regarding hazardous biological agents becomes available after a sample is referred to the laboratory, then the laboratory must be informed immediately

Inappropriate samples

  • The following samples will NOT be accepted by the Molecular Genetics Laboratory:
  • clotted blood samples
  • lithium heparin samples - due to risk of failure or false positive results for some analyses
  • inadequately labelled samples
  • inadequately packaged samples, including damaged or leaking samples.

Last updated 10 November 2015 by Claire Scott