According to a March 12, 2021 article by Adam Bonislawski in Genomeweb, researchers at Stanford University are profiling responses to the COVID-19 vaccinations. The Stanford study investigates the effects of all types of COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States, including the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines given in two doses, and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The team is led by Dr. Michael Snyder, a professor of genetics, who also directs The Snyder Lab at Stanford Medicine. The researchers are using an omics approach to assess the physiological effects of the COVID-19 vaccines.
The scientists will ask research volunteers to collect blood and stool samples at home before, during and after vaccination. They will analyze the samples for metabolomic, proteomic, and antibody data. The study is expected to provide insights into the factors that influence the different vaccine responses between individuals.
The feasibility of the study is attributed to remote sampling tools for specimen collection — Mitra® devices based on VAMS® technology from Neoteryx. The remote microsampling approach is not entirely new for Stanford researchers. The team had previously set up their lab for processing remotely collected microsamples using Mitra and VAMS. Their experience with this technology was instrumental in making the new "remote microsampling" COVID-19 vaccine study possible.
Volunteers can participate remotely in the study by self-collecting samples with the easy-to-use devices, which allow them to mail in their specimen samples from the safety of home while the coronavirus pandemic continues. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that many people would prefer to stay away from collection centers and research sites whenever possible. Mailing the kits to volunteers enables the scientists to launch a study that people feel they can participate in safely. This remote microsampling approach is anticipated to increase volunteer recruitment rates.
After self-collection, participants mail their specimen samples to the study lab for analysis. The research team at Stanford Medicine hopes to recruit at least 500 study participants across a broad range of ages and geographic locations for this remote microsampling study.
Another advantage of remote sample collection is that it is minimally invasive and less uncomfortable than conventional specimen collection — particularly with regard to blood collection that traditionally uses a needle puncture in the arm. The Mitra® Collection Kits being used by the researchers come with supplies and illustrated instructions for use. For the blood collection component, researchers are also providing instructional videos from Neoteryx for reference. Study participants follow the instructions and video demonstrations to understand how to prick their fingertip with a lancet and collect a small sample of blood onto the absorbent tip on a Mitra device.
The researchers will analyze both the blood samples and stool samples to investigate changes in each subject’s microbiome and immune cell profiles throughout the study.
Ryan Kellog, PhD, says the gut is the largest immune organ. The study will help to establish if any microbiome changes develop within the gut after COVID-19 vaccination. The team will also identify changes in the gut’s immune cells, which they will measure from the stool samples.
People interested in learning more about the study or in enrolling as a volunteer can visit the team's study website.
For more information about remote microsampling for COVID-19 studies, click below: