The current ‘state-of-the-art’ molecular techniques are extremely sensitive and consequently prone to false results. Even more so than in the past, today’s hepatology research depends on high quality samples, especially for the molecular analyses. In all steps, starting with specimen sampling, fixation, storage, molecular processing and finally data calculation, variations in procedures between research laboratories may have a profound effect on the final conclusions. At the end of the day, this is an enormous drawback once data from different research institutes need to be reproduced, compared and/or combined. To improve standardisation, the so-called MIQE guidelines (Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real- Time PCR Experiments) were presented for quantitative PCR (qPCR) studies.1,2 Furthermore, around the same time, recommendations were presented regarding human biospecimen collection, storage and processing, the so-called BRISQ-guidelines (Biospecimen Reporting for Improved Study Quality).3 Finally, the editors of The Journal of Pathology as well as Histopathology required in the December 2012 issue of The Journal of Pathology that researchers needed to follow the BRISQ guidelines in their papers in order to improve the sample quality in biomedical research.4
These initiatives hold great promise to improve the comparison and independent reproduction of data acquired in different research centres. Pancreas, gall bladder and liver research will especially benefit from the standardisation protocols since these organ systems are highly vulnerable to post-biopsy autolytic degradation. This comment illustrates that standardisation in molecular liver research is not yet at the point where experiments can be easily replicated, and data can be compared and combined.
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