the microsampling blog

how microsampling will change sports drug testing

shutterstock_543950845.jpgFor sports fans and athletes, the topic of drug testing has become ever more heated and complex. Detection of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) has been the basis for suspensions of athletes in nearly every sport, as well as a staple of talk shows and cultural commentary. Routine, mandated drug testing is now performed randomly before or after events.

Typical urine sampling for the presence of anabolic steroids and other banned substances can be cumbersome. Liquid urine samples of +100ml are typical and must be analyzed immediately or refrigerated to 2-8°C (35-46.4°F) until analysis can be performed.

Microsampling Urine Specimen for Testing Athletes

Two newer techniques for urine sampling reduce the need for expensive refrigeration and storage. These mirror blood testing methods and are used to eliminate the expense and handling difficulties of body fluids. These advances are a result of improved evaluation techniques and diagnostic devices.

Urine Microsampling

Two proven microsampling methods are available to evaluate urine samples for the presence or performance enhancing drugs. These are:

DUS: Dried Urine Samples are drops of urine placed on specially treated cards and then dried at ambient temperatures. Samples can be stored and transported without special handling prior to analysis.

VAMS™: Volumetric Absorptive Microsampling using the Mitra® microsampler extracts approximately a 10µl portion from the urine sample. Once a fixed quantity of urine is drawn into the microsampler through the polymeric tip, the specimen can be easily transported and stored without refrigeration.

Recently the Italian Ministry of Health Technical Committee conducted a test in collaboration with Neoteryx aimed at detecting doping in athletes using VAMS technology. The test determined if the VAMS sample collection system would work equally well with plasma, urine, and oral fluids. The result, according to Principal Investigator Laura Mercolini of the University of Bologna, was that the VAMS sampling devices “worked flawlessly” when compared to conventional sampling analyses.

Advantages of Microsampling Urine Specimen for Athlete Drug Testing

The benefits of testing with urine microsamples are:

  • Collection of a fixed volume of urine
  • Easy storage and transportation
  • Direct sampling with minimal training required
  • No after-sampling processes
  • Sample stability towards enzymatic and bacterial activities
  • Cost and time savings
  • Amenable to automation

Conventional methods of fluid testing when the testing laboratory is busy or off-site require expensive refrigeration and special handling. If mishandled, samples naturally deteriorate causing distorted results. Microsampling arrests the deterioration of the urine sample and provides a dependable result.

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