For our October Specimen Spotlight, rather than highlighting one particular order, we present to you some seemingly spooooky requests we’ve actually received from researchers and organizations. While you might think such requests are rare, scientists across the globe are conducting a variety of studies requiring specimens that seem more frightful than insightful. But new diagnostics and treatments are being discovered precisely because of these seemingly scary samples.
So sit back, turn on all the lights, and take a look at these spooktacular requests – from brains to eyeballs, you never know what is lurking within…
A Need for Whole Eyeballs
We’ve seen a few requests for whole eyeballs, which during October may take the form of a bowl of grapes in a dark haunted house! One request was to test the safety of an ocular cancer-fighting viral injection, that doesn’t adversely affect normal tissue. Another was to study age-related macular degeneration, a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people aged 50 and older.
Two recent requests for skeletal components might send shivers up your spine. One organization asked for fully cleaned bones to train search and rescue dogs, while another required full spines and ribcages to do biomechanical research.
No, not for the lab of a mad scientist – human brain tissue is critically important for research on conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
A Handful of Fingernails
Witchcraft aside, these requests are not to cast a spell. Researchers are in need of fingernail samples to test for past exposures to certain materials, like toxins such as arsenic.
Blood from Tattooed Morticians
We never did find out what this was for, and it was a request that we ultimately didn’t fulfill. While it’s reasonable to assume it involved testing for viruses of the blood known to be linked to tattoos, such as Hepatitis C, the spirits of the season make us wonder what was happening in the morgue.