Right Sample, Right Test, Right Remnant: The Remnant Equation

Sandra Kindig, Director, Lab Operations
July 5, 2023

In the ever-evolving field of clinical research, the utilization of residual clinical samples has emerged as a valuable resource. These biological samples, which are collected during routine medical procedures, hold tremendous potential for advancing scientific knowledge and improving patient care. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of residual clinical samples and their transformative role in clinical research.

What are residual clinical samples? They are biospecimens, such as blood, urine, tissue, or DNA, that are obtained from patients during routine medical procedures and used for clinical laboratory tests. After the needed tests are performed, clinical samples are usually discarded. However, rather than being discarded, these samples can be repurposed for research purposes, accelerating scientific discoveries and medical breakthroughs.

There is tremendous value in residual clinical samples:

  • They offer researchers access to a vast and diverse pool of specimens. These samples come from patients with different demographics, medical conditions, and treatment histories, providing a rich resource for studying diseases across various populations. This diversity enhances the generalizability and applicability of research findings.
  • They save researchers substantial time and resources. Instead of conducting new sample collections, researchers can access pre-existing samples, thereby bypassing the need for recruitment, consent procedures, and sample collection. This expedites the research process, allowing for faster data generation and analysis.
  • They are particularly valuable for studying rare diseases or conditions that have a low prevalence in the population.

Responsible and ethical use of residual clinical samples is of great importance. Safeguarding patient privacy and protecting data confidentiality are crucial considerations. Research utilizing residual samples must adhere to strict ethical guidelines, often overseen by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) or ethics committees. These bodies ensure that research protocols are compliant with applicable regulations and that patient rights and welfare are upheld.

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