microsampling: what it is and how it works
Blood sampling has been an essential diagnostic tool for decades. Up to 70 percent of all medical decisions are guided by diagnostic test results that include blood sample evaluations.
While traditional blood sampling techniques are still sometimes necessary, they are not always practical. For example, in remote areas that are a great distance from medical facilities, access to sampling facilities may be limited.
In such cases, microsampling can be a literal lifesaver. Blood microsampling is a simplified method of blood sampling that even allows participants to draw their own specimens and mail them to the laboratory for analysis.
Microsampling is a procedure for capturing and analyzing minute samples of blood for analysis. The samples require no more than 10-20 µL (microliters) of blood volume. A conventional sample drawn by venipuncture may consist of sample volumes of up to 10 ml, as much as 500 to 1,000 times the size of microsamples.
Microsampling is performed by a simple prick of the finger, allowing a drop of blood to rise to the skin surface. Using a device such as this one, the samples are captured in the absorbent tip of the testing devices. The samples are then folded into the attached plastic protective case and can be mailed without refrigeration or special handling to the laboratory.
Evolution of Microsampling
Microsampling has been used in animal testing to reduce the pain and stress that lab animals may endure from standard blood sampling. As part of an International initiative to improve the treatment of animals during medical screening, capillary-microsampling was intended to address the 3Rs (Reduction, Replacement, Refinement) for eliminating unnecessary abuse to lab animals. As the technology evolved, its benefits beyond that sphere became impossible to ignore.
Benefits of Microsampling
The value of reduced sample sizes is becoming apparent in human testing as well. Dried Blood Spot (DBS) sampling has already proven to be a viable alternative for many applications. But microsampling using VAMS technology may offer even more advantages.
- allows for home sampling
- does not require refrigeration and special handling during shipment
- is less painful and stressful
- can be performed on those for whom maintaining blood volume is critical