microsampling in action: an elegant dried sample storage solution from altasciences
The early adopters of microsampling technology include some of the most innovative companies, scientists, and institutions in clinical research and healthcare. We’ve explored the work of Altasciences before, and we’re not surprised to discover that their appetite for innovation extends beyond anti-epileptic drug monitoring, extraction methodology, and clinical research per se, into the realm of dried blood sample storage.
“Altasciences developed and validated novel methods using VAMS™ technology that required samples to be stored at room temperature, meeting the industry expectations for chain of custody, retrieval and archiving,” says Anahita Keyhani, Senior Director Scientific Operations, Mass Spectrometry. “While this was easily manageable for validations and studies with a limited number of microsamples, the support of several phase 1 and phase 3 studies required the room-temperature-storage of thousands of microsamples. The challenge was to find a storage solution permitting rapid sample filing and retrieval. Our Sample Management and Facilities teams searched for readily available storage solutions and there were none available, which led to the development and implementation of our own customized solution.”
First, the team at Altasciences set aside physical space to store its samples at room temperature with monitoring of controlled access and tight temperature regulation. Next, it devised a creative solution for storing and organizing the microsamples for easy retrieval.
“Finding suitable storage bins was a challenge,” says Keyhani, “looking for the right length, width, and height to accommodate the dimensions of the Mitra® microsamples. We then adjusted the spacing of the shelves, the depth of the shelves and the width of the shelves to maximize the storage capabilities of the space. We chose industrial shelving to ensure safe handling and storage by the staff. Further, the mechanism to attach the shelves was made adjustable to customize the shelf height for special needs. We worked with our sponsors to ensure barcode labeling of the samples pouches to align with our Watson LIMS system.”
The system Altasciences created takes advantage of the easy trackability of Mitra devices, especially in our cartridge format, which includes native barcoding.
“The bins were labeled with a numerical and alphabetical system that makes it easy to track and retrieve the samples,” says Keyhani. “There was trial and error to determine how the sample labeling could best be implemented. It was determined that the barcoded label for tracking would be on the cartridge and pouch. Since each sample analysis of a sample requires the tip from one device to be extracted, Samples in each pouch would be identified as one sample, and removal of each device for the extraction would be analogous to taking an aliquot from a ‘plasma sample.’ To remove a tip, the whole pouch would have to be part of the location change to the laboratory for extraction. The appropriate sampling of the tips in each cartridge would be recorded upon the first analysis like the 'hemolysis evaluation' of plasma samples when they are brought to the bench and thawed.”
The hard work and innovation of Altasciences in creating this novel storage solution stands as a testament to the initiative taken by those who are taking the lead in making the microsampling revolution a reality on the ground and in the lab.
“In bioanalysis of liquid samples - plasma, serum, blood - the logistical and storage expectations are well established and the focus is mostly on method development, validation and and determining the sample collection and processing at the clinical/nonclinical site. This is to align the sample integrity with the validated method. For new technologies such as Volumetric Absorptive Microsampling, the logistics, labeling, and storage requirements need proactive consideration as part of the overall workflow for successful analysis.”
This elegant system is but one example of how trendsetters and go-getters at entities large and small are succeeding with microsampling, making it work in ways that weren’t thought of before. In that spirit of enriching the community, Altasciences has released the information for this storage solution to Neoteryx to share with VAMS users as needed. It's all part of a larger movement toward more user-friendly blood sampling and smarter healthcare, already well underway.