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What can just a drop of blood tell us?

Microsamples from Cyclists Provide Clues to Treat and Prevent Diseases

by Neoteryx Microsampling on May 10,2023

A new peer-reviewed study article from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, published in the May 10, 2023 edition of Sports Medicine, describes how researchers used the Mitra® microsampling device from Trajan Scientific and Medical to analyze the blood of elite cyclists. The researchers at CU Anschutz used new metabolomics techniques in combination with the Mitra devices, which enabled them to study thousands of metabolites from just a few drops of blood.

The study of metabolites, which are small molecules made by our bodies when they break down food, drugs or chemicals, can provide clues that may help treat and prevent chronic diseases.These types of metabolomics studies are typically conducted using liquid blood collected via traditional blood draws, which present challenges. Liquid blood samples must be frozen directly after the blood is drawn from study subjects. Transport, handling and storage of liquid blood samples can be complicated and expensive.

The research study was made easier when the researchers adapted a protocol using the Mitra microsampling devices, which deliver dried blood spot (DBS) samples with volumetric precision.

The use of these remote microsampling devices enabled the researchers to follow the cyclists in the field and monitor their performance and physiological changes in real-time.

“We’re focusing a lot on what happens to the mitochondrial function of cells. This mitochondrial function is what we see dysregulated in so many diseases,” said Iñigo San Millán, PhD, a study co-author and assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in the news announcement.

Dr. San Millán went on to say that the research team wanted to capture information from their study subjects via a non-invasive blood sampling method with the aim of detecting dysregulations of key areas before a disease develops.

He said the researchers focused on elite athletes because they "come closest to representing physical perfection from a fitness point of view. We cannot understand imperfection – such as multiple metabolic diseases – if we don’t understand perfection in the first place.”According to Travis Nemkov, PhD, the lead and co-corresponding author of the paper and assistant research professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the CU School of Medicine, their study shows the feasibility of using this technology to monitor sports performance. Dr. Nemkov added that they combined their metabolomics technology with microsampling devices for remote blood collection to investigate an approach that would be feasible for studies in different kinds of athletes – professionals as well as "weekend warriors."


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