September 2021 — According to a preprint article slated for publication in the next issue of the journal Bioanalysis, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a shift in the way blood samples are collected for bioanalytical research and other studies. Authors James Rudge, PhD and Stuart Kushon, PhD provide context for the expanded and innovative use of remote sampling methods in 2020-21 by recounting how widespread lockdowns limited people's access to research and medical facilities. Drs. Rudge and Kushon, who co-developed a remote sample collection technology with volumetric absorptive microsampling, Mitra® devices based on VAMS®, discuss several research groups that applied Mitra with VAMS to gather the specimen samples needed for serology studies of SARS-CoV-2, and more.
As reported by Rudge and Kushon, the "remote research approach" allowed people isolated at home to collect high-quality blood samples for serology studies and mail them directly to laboratories. This remote research model enabled scientists to carry out large serosurveillance studies without the need for in-person visits to facilities or reliance on trained staff to perform all the blood draws.
Throughout 2020 and into early 2021, remote microsampling studies were conducted by several institutions in the United States and abroad to measure the relationship between antigen levels and SARS-CoV-2 antibody response and duration. Mitra devices with VAMS technology were also used globally to investigate the effects of COVID-19 vaccines. Researchers report that Mitra devices, which are designed to collect tiny drops of a bio-fluid (e.g., blood, urine, saliva) onto the absorbent polymeric VAMS tip, provide a straightforward method of specimen collection that enables anyone to self-collect high-quality microsamples for analysis.
The review article in Bioanalysis covers some pre-pandemic research studies that applied remote microsampling, but focuses primarily on independent research studies that have been conducted since the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The article illustrates that VAMS is an effective sample collection alternative to in-clinic blood draws, both during a global pandemic when access is limited, and for a range of future research studies moving forward.
Some of the successful SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 remote microsampling studies discussed in the article include work by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Rutgers University, the COVID-19 Community Research Partnership coordinated by Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program (IDCRP), University of Auckland in New Zealand, and Quanterix (using its Simoa® platform), among others. Based on the successes of these studies, more researchers are beginning to offer remote specimen collection and microsampling to their study participants.
This is curated content. To learn more details about all of the studies discussed here, please refer to the original article in the journal Bioanalysis.
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