Human biological samples

Human biological samples play a vital role in our research, helping us to build a deeper understanding of human disease processes and their underlying mechanisms.

Studying changes at the molecular and cellular level in human biological samples (including solid tissue, biofluids and their derivatives) makes it possible to relate the patient's symptoms to the disease processes. This in turn increases the likelihood of new, effective medicines being developed to treat diseases that currently are either poorly treated or do not have suitable treatments. Human biological samples are used to predict the likely effectiveness of a potential new medicine and to identify some of the possible unwanted effects. They are therefore valuable in the drug discovery process by enabling earlier and better predictions about the effectiveness and safety of a new compound.

We support robust international legislation and ethical guidelines, and have policies and processes in place to ensure that donated human biological samples are handled in a highly responsible and ethical manner. This places emphasis on the principles of informed consent and data privacy, designed to protect the rights and expectations of donors and families, whilst enabling an environment in which important medical research can flourish.

In line with our Bioethics Policy, we have established processes that cover the acquisition, use, storage and disposal of human biological samples that are used in our research. No human biological sample can be acquired unless it is from an approved source which has appropriate ethical approval procedures in place. Every human biological sample obtained by AstraZeneca must be acquired with the informed consent of the donor (or appointed representative) and must only be used in accordance with the consent, which describes the nature and purpose of the donation and any risks and benefits associated with providing the sample.

Supplier and collaborator evaluation are also an essential aspect of our policy. To maintain best practice, we continue to develop and refine these processes and apply them through on-going education, training, monitoring and assessment programmes for employees, suppliers and collaborators.

What's next in this section

Biosafety & Biosecurity

We have strict standards and procedures in place to manage the risk wherever biohazardous materials are handled.

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Download our Global Policy