Properly controlled samples can be carried long distances even in extreme temperatures.

By Barb Darrow
September 13, 2017

New research out of Johns Hopkins demonstrates how drones could be used to deliver blood samples from remote locations in hot weather without impacting results.

Typically, such samples are carried by land in coolers to keep temperature constant. The notion of using drones in extreme weather conditions thus raises concern over sample viability.

In this case, the researchers flew 84 samples for 160 miles over the Arizona desert and were able—by using custom coolers—to keep the temperature stable enough that the samples remained viable for testing. Their results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, and picked up by Stat, a health news site.

Swiss National Post Office has High Hopes for Drones

The use of drones in medical applications intrigues researchers.

In June, for example, researchers at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet ran a simulation to see if drone could deliver portable defibrillators to heart attack victims faster than ambulances. They found that on average, drones could get the gear to patients more than 16 minutes faster, a time advantage that could indeed make save lives.

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The Johns Hopkins researchers in the blood sample study say their results show that biological samples can be carried over relatively long distances provided there are “stringent environmental controls to ensure consistent results.” In this case, that means a custom cooler.

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