Blood samples are best-kept chilled, if they’re not going to be examined immediately, as warmer temperatures distort the biomarkers doctors depend on for analysis. But scientists have recently unearthed by that they can preserve blood at higher temperatures by storing it on silk proteins, a development that could mean big things for health care in places where cooling facilities are scarce.
Researchers at Tuft University have developed the new blood storage method by extracting a silk protein from silkworm cocoons called fibroin. This protein is famous because of its defensive characteristics when applied on to other materials, as shown from the fruit-preserving silk coating we covered a week ago.
The protein was filtered and put into the bloodstream, using the combination subsequently air dried and stored at temperatures ranging from 22 to 45° D (72 to 113° F).
Subsequently at various intervals, the group was able to get the blood by dissolving the silk component in water, discovering that the resulting samples were real enough to become properly examined. The group also claims its technique provided superior protection to dried blood spotting, another way of keeping samples at space conditions where several drops dry and are blotted onto filter-paper.
We found that biomarkers could be successfully analyzed even after storage for 84 days at temperatures up to 113 degrees F. Encapsulation of samples in silk provided better protection than the traditional approach of drying on paper, especially at these elevated temperatures which a shipment might encounter during overseas or summer transport,” says the lead author on the research paper, Jonathan A. Kluge.
The breakthrough develops on previous work carried out by David Kaplan, a biomedical engineer at Tuft University. Kaplan has shown the stabilizing qualities of silk in vaccines, antibiotics and enzymes.
This approach should facilitate outpatient blood collection for disease screening and monitoring, particularly for underserved populations, and also serve needs of researchers and clinicians without access to centralized testing facilities. For example, this could support large-scale epidemiologic studies or remote pharmacological trials,” he says.