By Emerson Dameron
Thanks to advances in science, it is now possible to generate a large amount of data from a small amount of biological fluid. If appropriately collected, samples as small as 10 or 20 μL can yield enormous amounts of information. The process of collecting these small samples of blood, urine, or other such material is called microsampling.
It seems simple, but microsampling has revolutionary implications across the fields of science, research, and healthcare. Here are a few of the ways in which microsampling is changing the world.
- Remote Sampling
With minimal training, almost anyone can use a microsampling device to collect a small sample, anywhere, at any time. The process doesn’t require large blood draws, venipuncture with needles, or lab equipment.
This gives patients greater agency, provides comfort to pediatric patients and those unable to visit a clinic, and opens access to remote regions where access was limited before. It makes people more independent, and brings us closer together.
In the last year alone, researchers and healthcare professionals have used microsampling technology to measure biomarkers for malnutrition in Liberia, and to lead a group of organ transplant patients on a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Remote sampling literally opens the landscape for research and medicine.
- Drug Monitoring
For patients who require therapeutic drug monitoring at regular and frequent intervals, the requirements of TDM can comprise their personal and professional lives. When an individual must spend enormous slices of time in clinics and waiting rooms, families and entire communities can be affected.
Microsampling allows TDM patients to participate more effectively in treatment. When they can collect their own samples at home, their lives are less disrupted. The comfort and convenience ripples out to others who depend on having these individuals available, comfortable, and happy.
Meanwhile, health care professionals have access to the accurate and reliable data they need to care for their patients, wherever they may be.
- Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are a crucial part of evaluating new drugs and treatments. Participation in clinical trials is almost always voluntary and frequently demands heavy sacrifice of those who participate, often with no guarantee of immediate compensation.
Therefore, recruiting and retaining participants for clinical trials has always been a significant challenge for their facilitators.
Microsampling can make this process easier, for patients who can now collect samples at home, and for facilitators who have access to people who are now more willing and able to help.
- Animal Research
Animal research is another essential part of the research process, albeit a controversial one. It is important to make animal research more ethical and practical, for animals and the humans who work with them.
By collecting smaller samples, laboratories can reduce the number of animals used by up to sevenfold. For the lab rodents that are needed, the experience requires less blood and causes less stress.
Researchers are always looking for new ways to work more effectively and compassionately with their animal colleagues, and microsampling has the potential to make the entire field not only more humane, but more cost-effective as well.
Since 2014, Neoteryx has been on the cutting edge of developing Volumetric Absorptive Microsampling (VAMS™) technology. It manufactures the Mitra® microsampling device, the leading instrument for collecting small, volumetrically accurate samples, and can be used by anywhere, at any time, by almost anyone, with minimal training. Click here to learn all about it.