How is the specimen processed for assay or storage?

For details about processing or storing specimens, consult the lab that will conduct the assay and/or the assay kit instructions. Most kits provide detailed protocols about collection materials and procedures, and how to store and ship the specimen. Most manufacturers also have technical support available via email or phone to answer questions about specific protocol issues.

How will the specimen and any associated aliquots be labeled?

Labeling the specimens is critical to tying the assay results to information the individual provided through questionnaires or other sources. Handwritten labels can be used, recording subject ID number, collection date, specimen type (if needed), and any other critical information. CPC projects use bar codes that code this information and allow scanning within the laboratory when specimens are pulled to be sent for assay or when the assays are done. Transcription errors are reduced with the use of bar codes.

If the specimen is to be frozen, cryolabels that have a special adhesive that can withstand extremely cold temperatures must be used. Handwritten labels should be made with special markers available from laboratory supply sources that can withstand being wet or frozen at ultralow temperatures. Bar code ink should be for use on cryolabels for these conditions.

How and where should specimens be stored?

Promising developments for population-based research include specimen collection and assay techniques that do not require refrigeration or freezing, including rapid field assessments (e.g., pregnancy tests, glucose monitors) and filter-paper blood spots. Unfortunately, many assessments of interest cannot be done on such specimens (e.g., sensitive hormones, some sexually transmitted diseases) and require storage in refrigerators or freezers, some requiring ultralow temperatures such as -80° C.






link to a streaming video of a CPC-produced blood spot demo

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