Microsampling and the Virtual Clinical Trial Revolution
Clinical trials have evolved over time to become complex experiments that are carefully regulated to promote efficacy and significantly minimize potential patient harm and inconvenience. The use of remote microsampling in virtual clinical trials, or decentralized clinical trials, has enabled participants to conduct their own specimen collection in the comfort of their homes.
After collecting small samples of blood and other biological fluid, participants can mail them to the designated lab for processing and analysis. Study participants then use secure website portals, smartphone apps, video conferencing and other telemedicine technologies to share information with clinical trial administrators and researchers.
So far, remote or virtual clinical trials have already illustrated the benefits of microsampling techniques to both participants and practitioners.
Popularity of Microsampling Techniques
A study conducted by Merck (with results presented by Kevin Bateman at a recent SCOPE conference) revealed that an overwhelming majority (92%) of clinical trial participants preferred at-home sample collection to going to the clinic for a conventional blood draw. Only one person preferred the latter.
Most respondents also indicated that self-collection with a finger-stick sampling method was not painful. Most patients prefer microsampling because it greatly minimizes the amount of blood, time, pain, and stress associated with traditional methods.
Usefulness of Microsampling in Remote or Virtual Clinical Trials
Microsampling helps solve the greatest challenges in clinical trials - volunteer adherence and compliance - by eradicating the inconvenience and pain associated with venipuncture. It also allows clinical trial participants to collect a sample at home or in any location at their convenience.
Portable microsampling devices are designed for precision and accuracy, as well as for easier and more comfortable specimen collection for participants. A portable and minimally invasive microsampling approach is particularly suitable for children or the elderly.
The benefits of microsampling also help improve recruitment and retention of participants in clinical trials.
Microsampling is an advance for scientific research and plays a significant role in streamlining the trend toward virtual clinical trials, or decentralized clinical trials. It’s important to note that clinical trials in the modern era focus on making the lives of participants easier, while at the same time aiming to advance medicine and knowledge with scientific solutions.