Use of Human Cells and Tissues in Animals

At the September 2016 IBC meeting, the committee approved the following policy on use of human cells and tissues in animals.  It will likely be amended at the March 2017 to further clarify terminology on different types of cells (e.g., primary, cell lines, cell strains).  In any case, as stated in the policy, its purpose is to protect investigators and animal care staff from human pathogens that could be present in cells and tissues derived from humans.  The policy is in accordance with federal government agencies and is in agreement with such policies at other major research institutions.

IBC Policy on the Use of Primary Human Cells and Tissues in Animals

The University of Florida Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) has established the following policy pertaining to experiments where primary human cells or tissues are injected or implanted into experimental laboratory animals.  Human cells and tissues have the potential to harbor a number of infectious agents, including bloodborne pathogens such as HBV, HCV, HIV, HTLV, EBV, HPV and CMV, as well as agents such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis that may be present in human lung tissue.  The intent of this policy is to protect Animal Care Services staff and research staff from potential biological hazards associated with these types of experiments.  The practices and procedures outlined in this document are in accordance with those described in the CDC/NIH Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), 5th edition and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030.

Research animals injected or engrafted with primary human cells or tissues must be housed at Animal Biosafety Level 2 (ABSL-2) unless the cells/tissues have been properly screened as described below.

Animals may be housed at Animal Biosafety Level 1 (ABSL-1) provided the cells/tissues have been screened using the IDEXX BioResearch h-IMPACT 1 testing panel: http://www.idexxbioresearch.com/h-impact-human-pathogen-testing-profiles and the animals have not been exposed to other infectious agents.  Note that each cell/tissue sample to be used in animals must be screened using this method and the results must be provided to the IBC.

The following procedures should be implemented any time animals are injected or implanted with primary human cells/tissues regardless of whether or not they have been tested:

  • If syringes will be pre-filled in the laboratory, they must be transported to the animal facility inside a leak-proof, labeled (biohazard symbol and PI name) secondary container. Transporting samples in an open ice bucket is not appropriate.
  • An appropriate manual or physical restraint device must be used. If the procedure or conditions pose too high of a risk with an awake animal (e.g. cranial injections, inexperienced individual performing injections, animal is extremely agitated), the animal should be sedated prior to injection.
  • Safety sharps are required for injecting animals with human materials.
  • If a needle must be set down temporarily during a procedure, set the sharp end inside a clean 50-mL conical tube or equivalent to act as a protective sheath.
  • The injection site(s) should be wiped with a disinfectant-soaked cloth to remove/disinfect any excess inoculum leaking from the site.