The blood sample provided for the study will be used to identify genetic and hormonal factors that may be associated with breast cancer risk.
When the blood samples arrive at the Generations Study Laboratory they are processed immediately and then stored at -180˚C in liquid nitrogen for long-term preservation.
The blood samples for the study are processed by Nick Orr and Kasia Tomczyk in a special laboratory at the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre at the Institute of Cancer Research in Chelsea.
When received, the blood samples are spun in a centrifuge to separate their different components.
(2) Working on the MAPI machines
Using a machine called a MAPI, the samples are mechanically drawn into “straws” in volumes of 0.5 millilitres. Approximately 35 straws are prepared from the blood samples from each participant.
(3) The straws
The straws are placed into triangular tubes; different colour tubes are used for each individual. These triangular tubes are then put inside "goblets" for long term storage.
(4) Freezer storage
The samples are stored overnight in a freezer set at -80oC. This freezes the samples quickly.
(5) Storage in liquid nitrogen
The samples are then transferred for long term storage into tanks containing liquid nitrogen.
(6) Retrieving blood samples
A computer system keeps track of exactly where in the liquid nitrogen each sample is stored. This means that they can be easily retrieved for analysis.