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Researchers are using silk cocoons to store blood samples

Engadget Engadget 12/05/2016 Andrew Tarantola
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When doctors draw blood for analysis, it's vital that the sample either be immediately examined or refrigerated. That's because the proteins which indicate various diseases will either be destroyed by enzymes in the blood or deformed by ambient heat. Either way, the sample quickly becomes useless if you leave it sitting out. However a team of researchers from Tufts University have developed a new way to store samples without having to put them on ice by using silkworm cocoons.

The system works in a manner similar to conventional dried blood spot collection -- wherein a drop of blood is deposited onto a piece of cardboard and allowed to dry. The Tufts method, however, relies on powdered silk and a separate silk-based solution. Mixing these two items with a sample of blood and allowing the result to dry preserved more viable blood proteins than both the normal drying or refrigeration methods.

The team published its findings in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday. The technology itself is still very much in its preliminary development stages and won't be showing up in your doctor's office in the foreseeable future.

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