Media release: MDC Tissue Solutions collaboration


New collaboration aims to unlock UK human tissue samples for drug discovery research

Tissue Solutions and Medicines Discovery Catapult launch service to support UK companies and biobanks

  • Consented human samples are essential for diagnostic and medicines research and development
  • 93 per cent of UK SMEs said access to NHS biosamples for commercial development is hugely important, yet 64 per cent of companies found accessing UK samples donated for medical research difficult1
  • These difficulties lead to 75 per cent of diagnostic SMEs using non-UK sample sources instead1
  • Medicines Discovery Catapult and Tissue Solutions will work together to help UK companies and biobanks collaborate on medical research projects using consented UK human biological samples

HUMAN samples – including tissue, blood and urine – which are essential for medicines research and development, are difficult for small companies working in the field to access.

The Medicines Discovery Catapult is tonight [28 February 2018] launching its second collaborative project to solve this problem.

Tissue Solutions, a Scottish provider of ethically-sourced human samples required for preclinical drug development and research, will work with the Medicines Discovery Catapult to help UK SMEs and biobanks work together on medical research projects.

A recent report published by the Medicines Discovery Catapult and the BioIndustry Association, based on interviews and surveys with senior executives from the UK drug discovery field, found that 93 per cent of UK SMEs considered access to NHS biosamples for commercial development as hugely important, yet 64% had difficulty in accessing UK tissue samples for medical research.

Difficulties due to access leads to 75 per cent of diagnostic SMEs using non-UK sample sources instead[1]. The key issue faced by companies is the process of agreeing and delivering sample access. Although some biobanks in the UK have overcome this issue, many have not and the problem of access to UK samples remains an area of concern.

Medicines Discovery Catapult is helping to tackle this issue via a new collaboration project which will create a joint team with Tissue Solutions, focussed on supporting UK research companies making agreements with UK biobanks for commercial R&D.

Glasgow-based Tissue Solutions is recognised as the UK’s specialist provider of ethically-sourced human biological samples, with a global customer and supplier network.

The partnership is a two-year commitment supporting the use of consented human samples from UK patients for medical research and development. The partnership complements Medicines Discovery Catapult’s current collaboration with the UK’s Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre, which will make consented samples easier to find.

[1] State of the Discovery Nation 2018 – joint report by the BioIndustry Association and the Medicines Discovery Catapult

Mr Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Scottish Government, says: “It is important for a thriving R&D drug development sector that access to the building blocks of discovery science is enabled for the future health of the population. This collaboration between the Medicines Discovery Catapult and Tissue Solutions is confirmation of the strength of Scottish Life Sciences companies and clearly shows that Scotland is an excellent place to do business.”

Chris Molloy, chief executive of the Medicines Discovery Catapult, said: “The UK has millions of samples and billions of data points collected from UK patients who have generously agreed for them to be used in medical research. Yet we know small companies struggle to access them. That’s a major barrier to the UK’s R&D productivity and represents a missed opportunity for growing the sector. In a globally competitive environment, we must ensure SMEs involved in drug discovery are given all they need to maintain the UK’s strong heritage position in medicines R&D”

Morag McFarlane, CEO of Tissue Solutions, said: “Sitting at the interface between Biobanks and scientists working on cutting-edge projects is a privileged position to be in. We understand that the best research comes from the best samples. We are committed to providing the very highest-quality samples to help advancements in biomedical research and this collaboration will secure the best samples for UK-based organisations.”

Sophia Turner, from UseMYdata patient group, said: “The use of samples is vital to improve understanding of health and disease. When patients donate samples for medical research, they want to see them used to improve medicines and treatments. This agreement is an important step to ensure they are used as patients intend.”

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For further information on Tissue Solutions, visit


For further information or to arrange interviews contact Kate Beard or Louisa Struben on 020 7700 6952 or email or

Notes to editors:

About the Medicines Discovery Catapult

The Medicines Discovery Catapult is a national centre of applied Research and Development expertise to promote and support innovative, fast-to-patient drug discovery in the UK through collaborative projects.

It is one of a network of elite, not-for-profit technology and innovation centres established by Innovate UK as a long-term investment in the UK’s economy. The Medicines Discovery Catapult will work with industry, academic teams, technology experts, charities, regulators and others, to develop new approaches for the discovery and early development of new medicines helping to transform ideas into commercial products and services for the wider health and wealth of the country.

By developing and validating new ways of discovering new medicines, and promoting key talent and expertise across sectors, it can help the UK maintain its heritage position as a global leader in this key industry.

About Tissue Solutions

Tissue Solutions Ltd is an ISO 9001:2015 accredited global provider of high-quality human biomaterials for pre-clinical and discovery biomarker research. They support projects by providing reliable access to high quality, highly annotated biomaterials fit for purpose and tailored to individual needs. Human samples help researchers produce results that are ahead of the curve, and develop products with an increased likelihood of clinical success.

Tissue Solutions offer a customised tissue service and have expertise in sample collecting and processing, ethics and compliance, and logistics. Samples include diseased and normal tissue in fresh, frozen, and FFPE formats. The company guarantee samples with the highest possible ethical compliance, offering reliable and efficient sourcing of biological material worldwide. Tissue Solutions also holds a Research Tissue Bank Licence in the UK.

In 2015, Tissue Solutions were delighted to receive the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise acknowledging the global reach and the worldwide demand for the companies’ services, in helping advance important medical research.

[1] State of the Discovery Nation 2018 – joint report by the BioIndustry Association and the Medicines Discovery Catapult.

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Tissue Solutions contact details…

Contact: Fiona Mackenzie