a brief history of at-home sampling
In recent decades, improvements in devices and techniques for at-home blood sampling have cleared the way for simple, accurate, and non-invasive sampling. These developments eliminate the need for patients to travel to a clinic frequently for testing and monitoring.
Because whole blood deteriorates quickly in ambient temperatures, transportation to laboratories has required refrigeration, along with special packaging and handling. Remote sampling seemed like an obvious improvement, but it was easier said than done.
The original challenge for at-home sampling was twofold:
- Make the process of blood sample extraction less invasive so that it could be self-administered without compromising the samples.
- Create a reliable method to analyze blood samples before the samples deteriorate.
Glucose Monitoring in the 1960s: Taking the Analysis to the Patient
In the 1960’s, analytic devices evolved that helped individuals with diabetes to measure blood glucose levels at home. Reflectance meters were introduced in the 1970s, but these were considered too expensive and impractical to carry around.
In 1968, the Haemo-Glukotest Test was the first “test strip” solution that provided a quick visual assessment of glucose levels in the patient's blood. The test became the standard for glucose monitoring. More sophisticated test strip products evolved.
Breakthroughs in Sampling and Analysis
More sophisticated at-home sampling analytics are required to monitor complex medical conditions like HIV and other severe disorders. These require frequent at-home sampling and then analysis by a fully equipped laboratory.
Recent Successful Strategies
The breakthrough in simpler and less invasive at-home blood sampling arrived with the development of improved analytic techniques. Accurate results can be obtained from smaller sample volumes.
Capillary sampling has long been used to evaluate the blood of newborns who have small volumes of blood. The latest techniques, however, allow for more comprehensive testing of even the smallest adult samples, creating a convenient alternative to traditional venipuncture.
DBS (Dried Blood Sampling)
DBS methods revolutionized at-home sampling. With a mere pinprick, a single drop of blood is placed on a specially treated card and allowed to dry. The sample can then be mailed to a laboratory via standard post without hazardous material designation or special handling.
VAMS™ (Volumetric Absorptive Microsampling)
The Mitra® device, using VAMS technology, is the least invasive and most consistent self-sampling device to date. It absorbs a fixed volume of blood, 10 - 20 µL, from a single pinprick into its absorptive tip. The microsampler folds into its cover, dries, and is sent to a laboratory via standard post. It's revolutionary in its simplicity and opens new doors for at-home sampling, for elderly and pediatric patients, TDM patients, patients in rural areas, and myriad others.