Making the Most Out of a Small Drop of Blood

Parents of newborn infants are very familiar with the excitement of holding their baby for the first time, staring into his or her little eyes and thinking about the bundle of joy that they has just been bestowed upon them. Then come the barrage of tests and medical procedures. Doctors (or nurses) measure the baby’s weight, length and head circumference and administer a shot of vitamin K and eye drops. And finally they take a blood sample from your baby. The Guthrie Test, as it’s known, involves pricking the heel of your infant and dabbing 5 drops of his blood on a Guthrie card for monitoring a variety of diseases such as Cistic Fibrosis, Hyporthyroidism and PKU. But what is done with that card once the tests are complete? Do they just throw it out? There isn’t much blood available on the Guthrie Card. How many useful things can you do with it? That’s where Dr. Janelle Noble from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) comes in.

As reported on the CHORI website, Dr. Noble and her colleagues recently published a paper in the Journal of Diabetes, Science and Technology describing a technique for improving the amount of DNA extracted from Guthrie cards so it can be used in human leukocyte antigen (HLA) studies. According to the authors “the modified DNA extraction method yielded as much as 660 ng of DNA from a single 5-mm-diameter punch of a blood spot card and performed well in downstream PCR-based applications. ”

With all the talk about recycling and conservation, the team at CHORI is certainly doing their part. Do you have any useful tips for making the making the most out of limited resource biological samples?

Lane JA, & Noble JA (2010). Maximizing Deoxyribonucleic Acid Yield from Dried Blood Spots. Journal of diabetes science and technology, 4 (2), 250-254 PMID: 20307384

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