The last few weeks have been full of natural disasters striking Mexico, islands in the Caribbean, and the United States mainland. Roads are damaged and entire communities have been cut off from help for days at a time, while the potential for infectious diseases to thrive has skyrocketed. Moreover, patients often end up without their prescription medication and some meds that require refrigeration go bad. In many cases, as with people on insulin, this can be a life threatening problem.
Drones may soon become part of future rescue missions. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have just demonstrated that they can safely transport blood samples for great distances in a fairly challenging environment. The team used a Latitude Engineering HQ-40 unmanned aerial vehicle with a built-in temperature controlled compartment that takes off and lands vertically. They flew the blood samples above an Arizona desert for up to 161 miles (259 Km) while tracking the payload’s temperature, which stayed within the proscribed limits. They then tested the samples for integrity using a series of chemistry and hematology tests.
In summary, their findings showed that the flown blood samples were just as good as those that were intentionally left stored in a temperature controlled case inside a parked car. Actually, since the temperature control system inside the car kept the samples about five degrees warmer than those that flew, their glucose and potassium levels were not as robust as the flown ones.
“We expect that in many cases, drone transport will be the quickest, safest, and most efficient option to deliver some biological samples to a laboratory from rural or urban settings,” says Timothy Amukele, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the paper’s senior author.
Via: Johns Hopkins…