The HDBR was established in 1999 in line with the ethical guidelines laid out in the Polkinghorne Report (Review of the Guidance on the Research Use of Fetuses and Fetal Material, 1989).  More recently, we have been licensed as a tissue bank at each site by the Human Tissue Authority.  Donations of tissue are made entirely voluntarily by women undergoing termination of pregnancy. Donors are asked to give explicit written consent for the fetal material to be collected, and only after they have been counselled about the termination of their pregnancy.

Characteristics of the material

The HDBR can provide embryonic/fetal material from 26 post-conception days (Carnegie stage 12), up to 20 post-conception weeks. A significant proportion of the material has been cytogenetically karyotyped, and normal karyotyped material is provided for research.

Tissue, slides, RNA, genomic DNA, cDNA and tissue arrays can be requested. Please contact the Resource Manager at enquiries@hdbr.org for details.

*NEW* High resolution Haematoxylin and Eosin-stained sections from CS12 to CS23 are available here please contact us to obtain a user name and password. A short guide on how to view the sections can be found downloaded here.

Management of material

The tissue is held at Newcastle University Biosciences Institute and the Institute for Child Health, London. It is intended for use primarily by academic researchers. The HDBR Joint Steering Committee is responsible for the overall management of the project and vets all applications to use material through a two-stage process. Applications are made via a project registration form and first considered by local committees at the HDBR centres in London and Newcastle.  Where proposed projects fall within the priority research areas, then decisions can be reached within 2-3 weeks of the project registration form being submitted. These projects are then reviewed at the nearest biannual meeting of the HDBR Joint Steering Committee, which would also take decisions about projects that lie outside the priority research areas.

The HDBR makes every effort to ensure that optimal use is made of donated tissue, both in terms of the aims and quality of the research for which it is used and avoidance of duplication/wastage.

User communities

The HDBR was set up primarily for use by the academic research community in the UK. Recently, this has been extended and applications from abroad are welcomed. For all users, before material can be sent out, a material transfer agreement needs to be in place.  The HDBR sites can extend their ethical approval as tissue banks to other projects provided that:

1. the research is being carried out within the UK 

2. the research falls within the project remit of the HDBR (primarily these cover gene expression studies). 

If these two conditions are met then there is no need to apply for local ethics approval.  Projects outside the UK will need to follow their local ethical and other governance regulations for use of embryonic and fetal human tissue.

From February 2004, HDBR has offered an In House Gene Expression Service (IHGES) that carries out gene expression studies at the collection centres on behalf of external registered users.

The HDBR joint steering committee will consider applications by pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies for access to the Resource, provided that the tissue itself is not used directly for financial gain.