Culture Collections

How to send samples to ECACC Human Genetic Services


Important Safety Information
You must inform ECACC immediately of any known high risk patient, or if you retrospectively learn that a sample already sent to ECACC is hazardous. Unless otherwise agreed under the terms of the Service Agreement, ECACC will dispose of high risk blood or PBL samples from HIV, Hep B or Hep C positive individuals without processing.


Evidence of Ethical Approval
Culture Collections need confirmation of Research Ethics Committee (REC) approval for all Genetic Services deposits from the depositor under The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) regulations.  A copy of the REC approval form must be supplied by the depositor with confirmation of REC expiry or review date.


For large numbers of samples collected as part of an ethically approved study:
Upon written acceptance of the quotation, a Service Agreement will be prepared detailing the services to be provided by ECACC and requesting basic information about the study. A specimen copy of the detailed patient consent form for the study must also be provided. A signed copy of this agreement, complete with a Purchase Order number is a prerequisite for ECACC to accept any samples.


For small numbers of samples, as part of an ethically approved study:
Please contact ECACC directly before collecting any samples, to inform us of your intention to send a blood sample.  Each sample must be accompanied by a completed Human Genetic Support Services (HGSS) deposit form and a Purchase Order number.


Blood samples

  • All samples must be anonymised/de-identified, clearly labelled with a unique identifier, preferably with a barcode, and accompanied by an appropriate deposit form.
  • Prior warning should be given of any samples expected to arrive at ECACC at the weekend.
  • Samples must be packaged in accordance with International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations (full details to be found at

Blood samples for cell lines

  • Collect, ideally, 6-8ml blood using acid citrate dextrose (ACD) or citrate phosphate dextrose adenine (CPDA) blood tubes and ensure proper mixing by gentle inversion of the tubes. Always fill the tube to the required level.
  • Samples should be sent on the day of collection to arrive at ECACC the next day whenever possible. Blood samples in Heparin or EDTA must arrive at ECACC within 48 hour of collection, as lymphocyte viability deteriorates significantly after this time with these anti-coagulants.
  • Samples must not be refrigerated or frozen, but should be shipped at ambient (15-22°C) temperature.
  • If a third party is sending blood on your behalf, please ensure that they are made aware of these recommendations.

Frozen Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes (PBLs)

  • If you are planning to send frozen PBLs to ECACC for EBV transformation, we recommend that you send your PBL preparation protocol to ECACC for review.
    PBLs should be prepared in a dedicated, Mycoplasma-free area that is not used for routine cell culture or the processing of human pathology specimens. If the former is not possible, screening of cell cultures for Mycoplasma contamination should be carried out on a regular basis. ECACC must be informed of any potential risk of Mycoplasma contamination.
  • PBLs should be frozen to below -80°C at a controlled rate in the presence of cryoprotectant. Internal threaded cryovials which are clearly and unambiguously labelled (preferably bar-coded) with the sample reference on wrap-around, low temperature resistant labels, should be used. Do not use hand-written labels.
  • Frozen PBLs should not be stored at -80°C for more than a few days, as this leads to loss of viability. Longer term storage should be at temperatures below -130°C in a liquid nitrogen cryotank.
  • Frozen PBLs must be sent to ECACC in an insulated carton, packed in dry ice sufficient for 3-5 days in transit.
  • A reference blood spot card, for verification of cell line identity, should be provided for each sample.
  • PBL shipments must be accompanied by a list of the samples and their identities, grouped to reflect the packaging. The identifiers should be identical to the cryovial labels. Affix reproductions of the barcodes if appropriate.
    At least 24 hours notice must be given to ECACC prior to shipment of frozen PBLs.

Samples should be addressed to:

Genetic Support Services
Culture Collections
UK Health Security Agency

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